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Strongest earthquake in 20 years rattles southern California

A damaged motorhome is seen red-taped after an earthquake, Thursday, July 4, 2019, in Ridgecrest, California.   | Photo Credit: AP

The strongest earthquake in 20 years shook a large swath of Southern California and parts of Nevada on Thursday, rattling nerves on the July 4th holiday and causing injuries and damage in a town near the epicenter, followed by a swarm of ongoing aftershocks.

The 6.4 magnitude quake struck at 10.3 a.m. in the Mojave Desert, about 240 km northeast of Los Angeles, near the town of Ridgecrest, California.

Multiple injuries and two house fires were reported in the town of 28,000. Emergency crews were also dealing with small vegetation fires, gas leaks and reports of cracked roads, said Kern County Fire Chief David Witt.

Kern County District Supervisor Mick Gleason told CNN there were some structural issues with the hospital and some patients had to be moved from one ward to another and that others were taken to a neighboring building.

Mr. Gleason did not say what the structural issues were.

Ridgecrest Mayor Peggy Breeden said that utility workers were assessing broken gas lines and turning off gas where necessary.

The local senior centre was holding a July 4th event when the quake hit and everyone made it out shaken up but without injuries, she said.

“Oh, my goodness, there’s another one (quake) right now,” Ms. Breeden said on live television as an aftershock struck.

Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for Kern County. The declaration means that the state will help the county and municipalities in it with emergency aid and recovery efforts.

Ridgecrest Mayor Peggy Breeden welcomed Mr. Newsom’s declaration for emergency. She also noted at a news conference that other nearby governments have offered to help the recovery effort.

President Donald Trump said he was fully briefed on the earthquake and that it “all seems to be very much under control!”

Police and fire officials said at a news conference Thursday afternoon that they have enough resources so far to meet needs in the wake of the earthquake. Ridgecrest Police Chief Jed McLaughlin said at a news conference that “we have plenty of resources.”

California Highway Patrol Lt. John Williams says officials have found cracks on several roads in the county, but overpasses and underpasses are in good shape.

A series of aftershocks included a 4.5 magnitude temblor, according to the United States Geological Survey.

“It almost gave me a heart attack,” said Cora Burke, a waitress at Midway Cafe in Ridgecrest, of the big jolt. “It’s just a rolling feeling inside the building, inside the cafe and all of a sudden everything started falling off the shelf, glasses, the refrigerator and everything in the small refrigerator fell over.”

Video posted online of a liquor store in Ridgecrest showed the aisles filled with broken wine and liquor bottles, knocked down boxes and other groceries strewn on the floor. Flames were seen shooting out of one home in the community.

Lucy Jones, a seismologist with the California Institute of Technology’s seismology lab, said the earthquake was the strongest since a 7.1 quake struck in the area on October 16, 1999.

“This has been an extremely quiet abnormal time,” Ms. Jones said. “This type of earthquake is much more normal ... The long term average is probably once every five or 10 years somewhere in Southern California.”

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2021 3:21:19 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/strongest-earthquake-in-20-years-rattles-southern-california/article28291589.ece

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