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Rare Oklahoma earthquake damages 14 buildings

Oklahoma earthquake: The 5.6 magnitude earthquake Saturday, followed by aftershocks Sunday, damaged at least 14 homes in Oklahoma, say officials. No one was seriously injured.

By Steve OlafsonReuters / November 6, 2011

Joe Reneau gets a hug from a friend in Sparks, Oklahoma., Sunday, Nov. 6, 2011. Reneau's home was damaged when the chimney collapsed during Saturday's 5.6 earthquake.

(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

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Oklahoma City, Okla.

Fourteen homes were damaged late on Saturday in the largest earthquake to hit Oklahoma on record, emergency management officials said on Sunday.

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The 5.6-magnitude earthquake's epicenter, located 44 miles east of Oklahoma City , was felt as far away as Wisconsin and South Carolina, but there were no serious injuries, officials said. The Oklahoma health department reported two minor injuries, neither requiring hospitalization.

The largest earthquake previously recorded in Oklahoma was a 5.5-magnitude tremor in 1952, according to the Geological Survey.

The Oklahoma Geological Survey has warned people to expect more aftershocks, said Michelann Ooten, a spokeswoman for the state emergency management department.

Saturday's quake rippled north through Kansas and into Missouri, rattling windows and waking sleeping residents, though there were no reports of damage or injuries there.

At one of the homes damaged in Oklahoma, the chimney crashed through the roof and its walls and foundation were split by tremors, said Joey Wakefield, emergency management director for rural Lincoln County.

The severity of the earthquake startled everyone, he said, because earthquakes in the area are typically mild.

"We're in tornado country, man," Wakefield told Reuters. "These earthquakes, it just scares the hell out of everybody here."

The National Weather Service in Norman, Oklahoma, said its radar detected swarms of birds and bugs that took flight to escape the shaking on the ground.

A state highway that buckled in the southeast corner of the county was patched and reopened to traffic by early Sunday while a road grader was sent to push a boulder the size of a sport-utility vehicle off a rural county road, Wakefield said.

In nearby Shawnee, Oklahoma, the earthquake caused a spire to fall from a five-story building on the campus of St. Gregory's University that was built in 1915, a university spokeswoman said.

Police dispatchers in Wichita, Kansas, received calls about the quake overnight, officer Ray Alverson said on Sunday. No injuries or damage were reported, he said.

Alverson said his own house in west Wichita shook in the quake, a first for him.

"It's kind of a weird feeling," he said.

In Springfield, Missouri, numerous people called 911 to report "light shaking," said Chris Inman of the Springfield/Greene County 911 Center.

"They wondered if they were losing their minds or what," Inman said.

(Additional reporting by Kevin Murphy and Carey Gillam; Editing by Corrie MacLaggan and Jerry Norton)

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