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Salt Lake airport reopens hours after 5.7 magnitude earthquake

Planes wait on the tarmac as this morning's earthquake ground flights to a halt at Salt Lake City International Airport. (Photo: Kelli Pierce)

SALT LAKE CITY — The airport is open again, hours after crews grounded all flights at Salt Lake City International Airport and evacuated passengers after this morning’s earthquake.

The earthquake shook up passengers like Sophia Listina, who was on her way to Texas on a mission with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“I was just trying to get my flight plans and then it started shaking. I’m from Alaska so I’m kinda used to earthquakes…So I backed up under a beam and waited it out,” Listina said.

Salt Lake City International Airport Executive Director Bill Wyatt says Concourse D suffered some damage from the earthquake.

“We had a fairly substantial water line break in Concourse D, and that is in the process of being repaired. A few ceiling tiles [are] out of shape. And we’re evaluating any structural issues,” Wyatt said during a news conference.

No other damage has been reported. The runways and construction site on the new terminal are okay.

Passengers, staff, and people in the FAA tower were evacuated after the earthquake. But Wyatt said the coronavirus outbreak helped, as fewer people were at the airport.

“There are many fewer people working here because there are many fewer flights and there are many fewer connecting passengers and local traffic as well. Evacuating the terminal buildings was easier,” Wyatt said.

Most flights that were in route at the time were rerouted to Denver.

Before noon, cargo flights were allowed to land and take off. However, people who have flights on major airlines are encouraged to call their carrier to see when their flight is rescheduled.

The airport announced its reopening around 2 p.m. Wednesday afternoon.


Earthquake preparedness

Utah is “Earthquake Country,” meaning the state is susceptible to earthquakes, especially along the Wasatch Front. It’s important to prepare yourself and your family for an earthquake. Here are some basic tips on earthquake preparedness:

Before an Earthquake

  • Move or secure objects that could fall and hurt you
  • Identify your building’s potential weaknesses and begin to fix them
  • Create a disaster-preparedness plan and have disaster supply kits ready

During an Earthquake

  • Seek cover under sturdy furniture or doorways. As things move, hold on, and move with it.
  • Move away from windows and objects that could fall
  • Move against a wall in the interior of the building, cover and protect yourself