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Quake sets off burglar alarms in Texas town near epicenter


EL PASO, Texas -- An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.6 that rattled much of West Texas on Thursday night was literally a bell ringer in the quiet university town of Alpine, near the epicenter.

"It set off every burglar alarm in town," said Shannon Rudine of the Alpine Volunteer Fire Department. "And lots of folks got in their cars and starting driving around to look at the damage."

As it turned out, there was not much to see.

The quake broke some windows, cracked a few chimneys and walls and jangled a lot of nerves, Mr. Rudine said. There were no serious injuries, and no major property damage was reported. Police Chief Henry Ogletree said the most serious damage he could find was a wall that pulled away from its vertical supports in a vacant building in the downtown area.

The earthquake, which occurred at 7:33 p.m. Central Daylight Time, was the first in West Texas in 64 years. The epicenter has been tentatively set in the vicinity of Marathon, 20 miles south-southeast of Alpine.

John Minsch of the U.S. Geological Survey's Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colo., said the quake was of "moderate" intensity. A few people reported feeling the quake as far away as El Paso, about 200 miles northwest of Alpine, and in Dallas, nearly 500 miles to the northeast, he said.

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