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State of Emergency Declared in Oklahoma After Magnitude 5.6 Earthquake

by Elisha Fieldstadt and The Associated Press /  / Updated 
Stonework litters the sidewalk outside an empty jewelry store at the corner of Sixth and Harrison in Pawnee, Oklahoma, U.S. September 3, 2016 after a 5.6 earthquake struck near the north-central Oklahoma town.STAFF / Reuters

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A state of emergency was declared in Pawnee, Oklahoma, after a record-tying magnitude 5.6 earthquake — which could be felt as far as Chicago — rattled the county Saturday morning.

"The earthquake was felt in multiple states and was the strongest the state has experienced since November 2011 when a magnitude 5.6 earthquake occurred in Lincoln County," said Gov. Mary Fallin Saturday night.

"This emergency declaration will start the process to helping individuals, families and businesses impacted by the earthquakes and serves as a precursor to requesting any necessary assistance,” Fallin said.

The United States Geological Survey said the quake happened at 7:02 a.m. CT (8:02 a.m. ET) in north-central Oklahoma, on the fringe of an area where regulators had stepped in to limit wastewater disposal.

Stonework litters the sidewalk outside an empty jewelry store at the corner of Sixth and Harrison in Pawnee, Oklahoma, U.S. September 3, 2016 after a 5.6 earthquake struck near the north-central Oklahoma town.STAFF / Reuters

An increase in magnitude 3.0 or greater earthquakes in Oklahoma has been linked to underground disposal of wastewater from oil and natural gas production.

Related: Strong Oklahoma Earthquake Felt From Nebraska to Texas

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission directed wastewater disposal wells within an approximate 500-square-mile radius of the epicenter to shut down as a precaution.

But the 37 wastewater disposal wells to be shut down are just a fraction of the state's total number. Oklahoma Corporation Commission spokesman Matt Skinner says the wells are among about 4,200 across the state.

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One person was injured in Saturday's quake, and at least 14 buildings were damaged, but officials were breathing a sigh of relief that the destruction wasn't worse.

"I’m glad to hear no one was seriously hurt in today’s earthquake and damage appears to be limited," Fallin said Saturtday

Bridges in the area of the quake were cleared to drive on Sunday, but officials were still inspecting dams and assessing buildings that could have been impacted by the quake and the four aftershocks that followed.

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