A 5.9 magnitude earthquake centred in Virginia shook much of Washington, D.C., and was felt as far north as New York City and Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, where President Barack Obama is vacationing.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake was half a mile (800 meters) deep. Shaking was felt at the White House and all over the East Coast, as far south as Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Parts of the Pentagon, White House and Capitol were evacuated. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

Mr. Obama and many of the nation's leaders were out of town on August vacation when the quake struck at 1-51 p.m. The shaking was felt on the Martha's Vineyard golf course as Mr. Obama was just starting a round.

At Reagan National Airport outside Washington, ceiling tiles fell during a few seconds of shaking. Authorities announced it was an earthquake and all flights were put on hold. At the Pentagon in northern Virginia, a low rumbling built to the point that the building was shaking. People ran into the corridors of the government's biggest building and as the shaking continued there were shouts of “Evacuate! Evacuate!” — AP