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Aftershock rattles North Carolina town as governor visits

A magnitude 2.9 aftershock on Tuesday rattled the North Carolina town where a 5.1 earthquake on Sunday shook items from grocery store shelves and caused damage to homes and businesses, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The USGS website showed the aftershock occurred around 4:45 p.m. Tuesday and was centered almost 2 miles (3 kilometers) southeast of Sparta. The latest aftershock occurred hours after North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper toured the Alleghany County town to survey the damage.

“In a county this small, a number of people hurt are affected by debts they already owe and mortgages so we want to try to provide as much help as we possibly can,” Cooper said.

The governor met with homeowners as well as with local and county officials, news outlets reported.

John Irwin, a member of the Alleghany County Board of Commissioners, said the earthquake has taken a financial toll.

“We’ve been hit hard economically,” Irwin told Cooper. “I’ve heard from bankers and people with mortgages . . . who don’t have earthquake insurance and they’re worried.”

Sunday’s earthquake was the most powerful earthquake to hit North Carolina in more than 100 years. A magnitude 5.5 quake occurred near Skyland in 1916, according to the National Weather Service.

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