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The BBC's David Willis
"They found cars buried beneath the rubble of collapsed buildings"
 real 56k

Alastair McGhee in Washington state
"This was not the big one that everyone has long feared"
 real 28k

KUOW radio station journalist Deborah Brandt
"We are seeing store fronts and buildings collapsed"
 real 28k

Thursday, 1 March, 2001, 10:57 GMT
Seattle counts cost of quake
Damaged car
Bricks and masonry tumbled into the streets
A state of emergency has been declared in the north-western US state of Washington following a strong earthquake which brought widespread damage.

I think we have weathered it - it's the biggest quake I remember

Seattle Mayor Paul Schell
In Seattle, buildings swayed and rocked for some 30 seconds, windows broke and bricks and masonry tumbled into the streets. In Pioneer Square, falling masonry all but engulfed parked cars.

One person was killed and at least 100 were injured, eight seriously. Damage has been estimated at $1bn.

With extensive landslides, broken water mains and thousands without power, Washington declared the state of emergency and President George W Bush sent experts to assess the scale of the damage.

Ironically, the president's 2002 budget, announced earlier in the day, proposes saving $25m by cutting Project Impact, which helps people prepare for natural disasters.

Seattle was one of the first cities where the Federal Emergency Management Agency put Project Impact into action.

'Bad one'

The earthquake struck at about 1054 local time (1845 GMT) and measured 6.8 on the Richter Scale.

The quake epicentre was a little over 50km from Seattle city centre.

In Washington state capital Olympia, about 15km from the epicentre of the quake, there were reports of a crack appearing in the Capitol building's dome.

Legislators, government workers and visiting school children flooded out of the building.

"The chandelier started going and the floor started shaking. Someone yelled get under the table and so we did," Senator Bob Morton said. "The sudden violence let us know that this was a bad one."

Pictures from the scene show bricks and rubble littering Seattle streets, windows smashed, and cars covered in debris.

Seattle Mayor Paul Schell said: "I think we have weathered it. It looks so far as if everything is working but it is too soon to tell. It's the biggest quake I remember."

Gates upstaged

Microsoft founder Bill Gates was preparing to address a conference when the venue shook and tiles started falling from the ceiling. The event was hastily abandoned as people rushed into the street.

The quake was also felt in Salt Lake City, more than 1000km away, as well as in Vancouver in southern Canada

Seattle's state ferry system was shut down as a result of damage to the main ferry dock in central Seattle, local officials said.

Seattle airport is also reported to have been closed.

Officials say that 17,000 people have had their electricity cut off.

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See also:

01 Mar 01 | Americas
In pictures: Earthquake in Seattle
01 Mar 01 | Americas
Can money stop an earthquake?
05 Jun 00 | Sci/Tech
The Earth's Ring of Fire
28 Feb 01 | World
Deadly history of earthquakes
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