The magnitude-5.9 earthquake that struck the capital area on Tuesday was felt from South Carolina to New England, but U.S. authorities said they had no reports of serious injuries or major damage.

Major public buildings in Washington, including the Capitol and the city's numerous museums, were evacuated and remain closed.

Officials also briefly evacuated the Pentagon.

The strongest quake to hit the East Coast in nearly seven decades occurred shortly before 2:00 p.m. and its epicenter was 40 miles (64 kilometers) northwest of Richmond, Virginia.

The impact of the temblor prompted precautionary evacuations of some buildings in New York and the metro area's three major airports temporarily suspended operations.

The earthquake did not cause any casualties or serious damage in New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement.

The quake was felt in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, where President Barack Obama is vacationing, and the White House said he conferred with senior officials by conference call.

Washington's National Cathedral suffered significant damage, according to NBC News, while managers of the city's airport and Metro system reported delays.