6.5-magnitude Nevada quake forces highway closure

A strong 6.5 magnitude earthquake struck a remote, sparsely populated area of ​​Nevada about halfway between Reno and Las Vegas early on Friday, the U.S. Geological Survey said

In Nye County, at the epicenter of the earthquake, a sheriff’s dispatcher said there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties. But later, the Nevada Department of Transportation said in an alert that the earthquake had damaged parts of U.S. Highway 95 in surrounding counties, warning drivers to find alternative routes.

The temblor occurred shortly after 4 a.m. local time, about 35 miles (57 km) west of Tonopah, the seat of Nye County, at a depth of 7.6 miles (7.6 km), the USGS said on its website .

It could be as far away as Sacramento, California, 500 miles away, according to social media reports.

Andrew Leon, 23, of Tonopah, said the earthquake struck while he slept.

“Yes, it woke me up, like I was being shaken,” said Leon, a cashier at a Burger King fast-food restaurant in Tonopah.

“It’s all we’re talking about this morning,” he told Reuters by phone. “When I opened here, nothing broke – only things were knocked off the shelves.”

About 200 miles north of Las Vegas, Nye County encompasses part of Death Valley National Park. It has 43,000 residents spread over an area roughly equal to the size of Vermont and New Hampshire combined.

The USGS reported about 10 aftershocks that registered up to 6.4, with most around 4.1-4.3 on the Richter scale.

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