7.1-magnitude quake jolts Southern California

By the Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, and Reuters

LOS ANGELES (AFP/AP/Reuters) – Southern California was hit by its largest earthquake in two decades Friday, a 7.1-magnitude tremor that rattled residents less than 48 hours after another quake struck the same area.

Traffic drives over a patched section of Highway 178 between Ridgecrest and Trona, Calif., on Friday, July 5, 2019. The strongest earthquake in 20 years shook a large swath of Southern California and parts of Nevada on the July 4th holiday, rattling nerves and causing injuries and damage in a town near the epicenter, followed by a swarm of ongoing aftershocks. The 6.4 magnitude quake struck Thursday in the Mojave Desert, about 150 miles northeast of Los Angeles, near the town of Ridgecrest. (James Quigg / The Daily Press via AP / MANILA BULLETIN)
Traffic drives over a patched section of Highway 178 between Ridgecrest and Trona, Calif., on Friday, July 5, 2019. The strongest earthquake in 20 years shook a large swath of Southern California and parts of Nevada on the July 4th holiday, rattling nerves and causing injuries and damage in a town near the epicenter, followed by a swarm of ongoing aftershocks. The 6.4 magnitude quake struck Thursday in the Mojave Desert, about 150 miles northeast of Los Angeles, near the town of Ridgecrest. (James Quigg / The Daily Press via AP / MANILA BULLETIN)

The shallow quake struck at about 8:20 p.m. local time (0320 GMT) at a sparsely populated area near the small town of Ridgecrest on the edge of Death Valley National Park, about 125 miles (202 km) northeast of Los Angeles, cracking buildings, setting fires, breaking roads, and causing several injuries.

Seismologists warned that large aftershocks were expected to continue.

The quake – preceded by Thursday’s 6.4-magnitude temblor in the Mojave Desert – was the largest Southern California quake in at least 20 years and was followed by a series of large and small aftershocks, including a few above magnitude 5.0.

With details of the impact still scarce, no deaths had been reported late Friday evening, but there were reports of damage including fires.

“Homes shifted, foundation cracks, retaining walls down. One injury (minor) with firefighters treating patient,” San Bernardino County Fire District wrote on Twitter.

“Early reports show damage is more significant than yesterday’s quake,” it added.

The quake was 11 times stronger than the 6.4-magnitude quake “foreshock” the previous day, according to the United States Geological Survey.

“This is an earthquake sequence. These earthquakes are related,” said Caltech seismologist Lucy Jones.

There was a 10 percent chance of Friday’s quake being followed by another magnitude 7.0 or higher quake in the next week, she added.

In Kern County, where the quake struck, some 1,800 residents were without power, fire department chief David Witt said.

At least two fires broke out in the area, county supervisor Mick Gleason said, with dozens of fire trucks dispatched.

In downtown Los Angeles, 150 miles away, offices in skyscrapers rolled and rocked for at least 30 seconds.

Andrew Lippman, who lives in suburban South Pasadena, was sitting outside and reading the paper when Friday’s quake hit.

“It just started getting stronger and stronger, and I looked into my house and the lamp started to sway. I could see power lines swaying,” he said. “This one seemed 45 (seconds)… I’m still straightening pictures.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom activated the state Office of Emergency Services operations center “to its highest level.”

“The state is coordinating mutual aid to local first responders,” he said.

Disneyland in Orange County and Six Flags Magic Mountain in Santa Clarita closed their rides.

An NBA Summer League game in Las Vegas was stopped after the quake. Speakers over the court at the Thomas & Mack Center continued swaying more than 10 minutes after the quake.

The quake rattled Dodger Stadium in the fourth inning of the team’s game against the San Diego Padres.

“Everyone was jumping over us to leave,” said Daniel Earle, 52, of Playa del Rey, who was sitting with his wife in the stadium’s reserve level.

“People were freaking out,” he said. “There was a concession guy, and he actually was really cool because he was really calm. He’s like, ‘Relax. Tranquilo. Relax. Tranquilo,’ and people were looking around.”

“My wife was holding us, like squeezing. I’m surprised my arm is still here. She was squeezing into it so hard,” Earle said.

However, the game continued.

The quake came as communities in the Mojave Desert tallied damage and made emergency repairs to cracked roads and broken pipes from the earlier quake.

Hours earlier, seismologists had said that quake had been followed by more than 1,700 aftershocks and that they might continue for years.

Jones said aftershocks from the new main quake could occur for three years.

Numerous parkgoers at Disneyland in Anaheim reported on Twitter that rides were shut for safety inspections after the quake.

Patrons at movie theaters in the Los Angeles area evacuated due to the quake.

“Everyone remained calm as the theater began to shake and then the shaking got stronger. We all headed to exits and down the stairs. No panic but one woman sobbing. This one was scary,” wrote NBC journalist Lester Holt on Twitter.

No damage was reported at Los Angeles airport following inspections.

In Las Vegas, 150 miles east of the quake, an NBA summer league game was postponed when the tremor hit, causing the scoreboard and several overhead speakers to sway.

‘Even bigger’

The earthquake was the largest in southern California since 1999 when a 7.1-magnitude quake struck the Twentynine Palms Marine Corps base, according to The Los Angeles Times.

The tremor sent Ridgecrest residents fleeing outside for safety as aftershocks continued, with one woman saying she was “not comfortable” about heading back inside for the night.

The shaking stops “for a minute, and then it starts rolling again… it’s pretty bizarre. But now at the moment, I’m not comfortable inside,” said Jessica Kormelink.

“I was actually in the car with my mom. And it just started bouncing up,” Jessica Weston, a journalist at the Ridgecrest Daily Independent, told CNN.

Relief efforts in the Ridgecrest area benefited from the arrival of major reinforcements that arrived Thursday afternoon, intended to counter a new potentially destructive earthquake.

The quake revived fears of the “Big One” – a powerful tremor along the San Andreas Fault that could devastate major cities in southern California.

READ MORE:  Strongest earthquake in 20 years rattles Southern California

 
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