ABC News' Devin Dwyer (@devindwyer) reports:
The U.S. Capitol, Pentagon, State Department and surrounding buildings all emptied today following a 5.9 earthquake that sent government workers scrambling.
Sirens sounded outside U.S. House office buildings on the south side of Capitol Hill as staffers in neon yellow "floor warden" vests directed workers away from their offices.
Police officers said they were ordered to evacuate all of the U.S. Capitol complex.
All congressional buildings have been evacuated and will remain closed until "structural assessment" of each is conducted. Those inspections are underway now, with more teams on the way, said Capitol Police spokeswoman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider at 3:46 pm ET.
"We've got a lot of buildings, a lot of floors to cover," she said, providing no estimate yet for when they will reopen.
The police department as been "hampered" in quickly being able to coordinate with other agencies by "signals jammed," she said. But operations within the department on the Hill were going smoothly.
At the Pentagon and State Department, workers also streamed outside, though not under an official evacuation order.
Hundreds of people were outside of the Pentagon after the tremors were felt when minutes later, an alarm was sounding in the hallways telling Pentagon employees that a pipe had burst due to the earthquake and there was “significant standing water” on an upper floor area of the building. People who work in that immediate area are being told to avoid it.
But despite that announcement, Pentagon police later informed staff to return to their offices.
The Pentagon-wide alarm system was installed after this building was targeted during September 11th.
Meanwhile, across the Potomac River in Washington, D.C., the State Department was also not under evacuation orders. No instructions were given over the loudspeakers throughout the building and Diplomatic Security confirms there is no requirement to leave.
That said, many employees left the building on their own. One security guard, who perhaps suspected there might be a formal evacuation order coming soon, told people they may not be allowed back into the building if they leave.
The State Dept’s daily briefing had just ended when the quake hit. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton is on vacation in New York and not in the building.
ABC News' Luis Martinez and Kirit Radia contributed to this report.