A house burns after an earthquake in Ridgecrest, California, on Friday. Reuters
A powerful magnitude 7.1 earthquake shook Southern California on Friday, causing some damage to buildings, fires and some injuries, with eight times more force than a foreshock that rattled the same area a day earlier, officials said.
The latest quake struck at about 8:20pm local time (0320 GMT) near the town of Ridgecrest on the edge of Death Valley National Park, about 125 miles (202 km) northeast of Los Angeles, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS).
Ridgecrest Mayor Peggy Breeden said by telephone: “We’ve got fires, we’ve got gas leaks, we’ve got injuries, we’ve got people without power, We’re dealing with it as best we can.”
Other officials said the extent of injuries and damage was as yet unknown, but there were no fatalities reported so far.
Friday’s quake was the most powerful to hit Southern California since another 7.1 temblor struck the Mojave Desert near the Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Base in 1999, said Lucy Jones, a seismologist for the California Institute of Technology (CalTech).
The San Bernadino County Fire Department reported that Friday’s quake had caused some damage to buildings.
“Homes shifted, foundation cracks, retaining walls down,” the department said on Twitter. “One injury (minor) with firefighters treating patient. No unmet needs currently.”
Luke Smith, owner of Furys Sports Bar in Ridgecrest, said in a phone interview that Friday’s quake shook tiles from the interior ceiling, slightly damaging his bar and knocking down some bottles. Three customers were in the bar at the time but no one was injured, he said.
SWARM OF AFTERSHOCKS
A swarm of aftershocks have jolted the high desert region of Southern California since a 6.4 quake on Thursday morning near Ridgecrest. Jones said that quake turned out to be a foreshock to Friday’s 7.1 tremor. Only a few injuries were reported in Thursday’s quake but two houses caught fire from broken gas pipes, officials said.
The Metrolink commuter rail service said on Twitter it had halted service in Los Angeles, a city of 4 million people, for the time being in the immediate aftermath of the latest quake.
“Homes shifted, foundation cracks, retaining walls down. One injury (minor) with firefighters treating patient.
The USGS said Friday’s earthquake released about eight times more energy than Thursday’s tremor, which rattled buildings and jangled nerves as Southern Californians were getting ready for July Fourth Independence Day celebrations.
Initial estimates had put the force of Friday’s quake at nearly 11 times the strength of Thursday’s event.
By comparison, the last major destructive temblor to strike Southern California was the 6.7 magnitude Northridge quake in 1994, which was centered in a highly populated area of Los Angeles. It killed 57 people and caused billions of dollars in property damage.
Initial damage reports were much lighter from Friday’s quake, which unleashed greater force than the Northridge event but was much less consequential because it was centered in a remote, sparsely populated area.
The Kern County Fire Department said on Twitter it was working "nearly 2 dozens incidents ranging from medical assistance to structure fires in and around the city of Ridgecrest, CA."
The epicentre of the quake, which struck at about 1:45am (1745 GMT) at a shallow depth of 10 kilometres (six miles), was located about 140 kilometres north-northwest of the city of Xining, US seismologists said.
A magnitude 7.5 earthquake in 2018 in the nation’s central region killed at least 125 people. That quake hit areas that are remote and undeveloped, and assessments about the scale of the damage and injuries were slow to filter out.
California, which has shown the determination to go it alone in areas such as environmental protection, scientific research and workers’ rights when its values conflict with policies at the federal level, is moving forward with its most audacious effort yet.
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