An earthquake measuring 7.2 on the Richter Scale rocked large tracts of the Western coast of Mexico and the United States 3:40 p.m. (local time) on Easter Sunday. The quake struck around 62 km from Mexicali, near the U.S.-Mexico border and was felt hundred of km away, throughout southern California.

The death toll, estimated to be two so far, has been relatively low and structural damage limited compared to recent earthquakes in Haiti and Chile. According to reports this was due to the quake having a shallow depth of 9.6 km.

The full extent of structural damage remains unknown; most of the destruction appears to be centred around Mexicali, the capital of Mexico's Baja California state, and in the town of Calexico in California.

Alfredo Escobedo, director of emergency services in Baja California, confirmed that one man was killed near Mexicali, near the epicentre of the earthquake when his house collapsed around him.

Earlier quakes in Haiti and Chile had clearly heightened the sense of fear. “One way or another, we have the disasters in Chile and Haiti in the back of our heads. There is a fear that it could happen to us at any moment,” Antonio Fernandez, the manager of Hotel Mexico in Mexicali, was reported as saying in a telephone interview. “It seemed that the earth would never stop shaking, and the aftershocks are constant.”

With power failures affecting most of Baja California and phone lines completely down in areas like Mexicali, agencies said it was impossible to get in touch with many establishments even until late on Sunday night.

Photographs in local media showed roadways cracked in half and officials reported that a number of residents in Mexicali were trapped in their homes. A state of emergency has been declared in Baja California, and teams from Tijuana were reported to be en route to Mexicali Sunday night to aid in rescue efforts. The U.S. Geological Survey recorded several aftershocks, the biggest being 5.1 on the Richter Scale, slightly north of the border U.S.-Mexico border.

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