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Magnitude 5.1 earthquake rattles North Carolina; strongest in state since 1916

The quake comes just hours after one that was less intense.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Did you feel that? 

According to Chief Meteorologist Brad Panovich, a 5.1 magnitude earthquake was reported near Sparta, North Carolina Sunday morning at around 8 a.m. 

Sunday's tremor was the location of Saturday's 2.3 magnitude earthquake.

There were no immediate reports of injuries, though many people in Sparta shared photos and videos of minor damage caused by the earthquake. 

The U.S. Geological Service said the quake’s epicenter was about 2.5 miles (four kilometers) southeast of Sparta.

Panovich said this would be the biggest quake in North Carolina since the 5.1 magnitude quake in 1916 near Asheville. Some reports place it as the third-largest North Carolina earthquake on record. 

Panovich said Saturday's 2.6 magnitude, in the same location, was a foreshock.

Hours after the earthquake, two aftershocks were reported with one registering at 1.8 magnitude and another 1.7 magnitude. 

"I would expect many small aftershocks over the next few days," Panovich said.

The chairman of the Alleghany County Board of Commissioners signed a declaration of a State of Emergency in Alleghany County in response to the earthquake. 

"I've never been so scared in my entire life,” said Sparta resident Erica Swenk.

The aftermath left Swenk’s home in chaos. 

"My pictures and everything on the floor and all of the broken glass, immediately it just triggers emotions, those are your memories so I started crying,” Swenk said. 

She said the shaking was so intense she wasn’t sure if she would survive, she’s thankful her kids were out of town.

"If I was going to see them again, I'm glad I lived through it and I've gotten to speak to them and know mommy’s okay and I think that's what's most important,” Swenk said.

The earthquake was felt by many in the Charlotte area as well. Phil Brooks, a Charlotte resident, said he felt his bed shaking — saying he was "pretty traumatized" by the event. 

Endora Crawford, another Charlotte resident, looked at it a little differently. 

"It's been that kind of year," Crawford said. "Anything that happens is not a surprise."

Contributing information from the Associated Press.

North Carolina Earthquake Facts:

  • The earliest reported earthquake in North Carolina occurred near Bath on March 8, 1735. 
  • The largest quake centered in North Carolina was a magnitude 5.5 on February 21, 1916, near Skyland, NC. 
  • The last damaging earthquake centered in North Carolina was a magnitude 3.5 in Henderson County on May 5, 1981. 
  • It is estimated that there are 500,000 detectable earthquakes worldwide each year — 100,000 of those can be felt and 100 of them cause damage, according to the United States Geological Survey.