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Statewide earthquake drill to be held Thursday

People were evacuated from buildings including the University of Maryland School of Dentistry on West Baltimore Street after a 5.8 magnitude earthquake centered in Mineral, Va., was felt in Baltimore.
People were evacuated from buildings including the University of Maryland School of Dentistry on West Baltimore Street after a 5.8 magnitude earthquake centered in Mineral, Va., was felt in Baltimore.(Lloyd Fox / Baltimore Sun)

Maryland emergency management officials are holding a statewide earthquake drill Thursday, reminding residents they should be prepared for temblors like the one that shook the East Coast in August 2011.

In that case, a 5.8 magnitude quake centered in Virginia, many people did not know how to react.

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"Instead of crouching under a desk or sturdy table, many people evacuated their homes or workplaces, unaware of the potential injury from falling debris," Maryland Emergency Management Agency officials said in a statement. "While this earthquake was not strong enough to cause significant damage to the outside of buildings in Maryland, an even slightly stronger tremor could have caused bricks and other exterior materials to become dangerous projectiles."

Maryland will take part in a regional "Great SouthEast ShakeOut" at 10:16 a.m. Thursday, during which residents are encouraged to practice proper earthquake response: "Drop, Cover, and Hold On". That is, drop to the ground, take cover under a sturdy table or desk, if possible, and hold on until the shaking stops.

The strongest earthquake on record that was centered in Maryland was a 3.1 magnitude tremor near Hancock, in Washington County, in 1978, according to the Maryland Geological Survey. The region is estimated to have a "moderate" risk of earthquake damage, according to the agency.

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