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National Cathedral Damaged During Earthquake

DAVID GREENE, Host:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm David Greene.

RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

The earthquake that stunned much of the East Coast yesterday left behind no reports of serious injuries or major damage. In a moment, we'll go to the quake's epicenter. But first, the 5.8 quake did manage to fracture a couple of landmarks in the nation's capital. Engineers discovered cracking in the stones near the peak of the Washington monument. It's been closed indefinitely. The National Cathedral is also closed after sustaining damage. Yellow caution tape is draped on the steps of the huge gothic structure and popular tourist attraction. NPR's Alex Kellogg reports.

ALEX KELLOGG: The damage was a bit of a blow to those who came to get a look at it. Samuel Lloyd is the dean of the National Cathedral, and he shared how the damage made him feel and many others there as well.

SAMUEL LLOYD: Well, it's very distressing. This place it seems so massive and so secure and was built to be a sign of God's security has been shaken at its foundations.

KELLOGG: The Cathedral took more than 80 years to complete. It wasn't finished until 1990. Three of the four pinnacles on the central tower were damaged - two, badly. Lloyd says it's unclear how long the National Cathedral will be closed.

LLOYD: The damage itself is fairly modest to look at and it will take us a little time to understand how serious it really is.

KELLOGG: The stone structure appears largely intact. Most of it wasn't damaged. There were some cracks on the upper floors in the interior, for example, but no damage to any of the fragile stained-glass windows.

The Episcopal cathedral draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

ELIZABETH RAWLINGS: It bothers me that this beautiful structure has had any damage.

KELLOGG: Elizabeth Rawlings lives in a nearby apartment. She has a view of the cathedral from her windows. She and a friend stopped by yesterday afternoon only to hear the bad news.

RAWLINGS: It was built along with my growing up, it was growing up, so I feel quite attached to it.

KELLOGG: Many others in the nation's capital feel the same.

Alex Kellogg, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Alex Kellogg is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk who covers diversity-related issues and how these act as social, political and economic forces shaping our country. One focus for Kellogg in this newly created position is on the convergence of ethnicity, race, politics, media and government.