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Magnitude 7.1 quake jolts California

Published:Saturday | July 6, 2019 | 9:47 AM
Food items litter the floor at a Walmart store in Yucca Yalley following the earthquake. AP

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The state of California, in the United States (US), was jolted last evening by a magnitude 7.1 earthquake, setting off fires, cracking buildings, breaking roads and causing minor injuries.

What has been described as the largest quake to hit Southern California in 20 years was quickly followed by a series of large and small aftershocks, including a few that were above magnitude 5.0.

And seismologists have warned that large aftershocks are expected for days, if not weeks.

“There is about a 1-in-10 chance that another 7.0 quake could hit within the next week”, said Lucy Jones, a seismologist at the California Institute of Technology and a former science adviser at the US Geological Survey.

Yesterday’s quake came nearly 24 hours after a magnitude 6.4 tremor in the Mojave Desert, parts of which are located in Southern California.

The quake struck at 8:19 p.m. and was centred 11 miles from Ridgecrest in the same areas where Thursday’s quake hit.

California Governor Gavin Newsom activated the state Office of Emergency Services operations centre “to its highest level” and announced that he had requested that President Donald Trump issue an emergency declaration so the state could receive federal aid.

The quake was felt as far north as Sacramento, as far east as Las Vegas and as far south as Mexico.

The area in and around Ridgecrest, already trying to recover from the previous temblor, took the brunt of damage.

Several thousand people were without power, and there were reports of cracked buildings.

“There are significant reports of structure fires, mostly as a result of gas leaks or gas line breaks throughout the city and daybreak [today] could show even more serious damage”, said Mark Ghilarducci, director of California Office of Emergency Services.

Local fire and police officials reported that they were initially swamped by calls for medical and ambulance service.

“But there was nothing but minor injuries such as cuts and bruises, by the grace of God,” Ridgecrest Police Chief Jed McLaughlin said.

Two building fires — one involving a mobile home — were quickly doused, and there were several reports of natural gas leaks, but the lines were shut off, McLaughlin said.

For the second time in as many days, Ridgecrest Regional Hospital wheeled patients out of the building, some still hooked to IVs.

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

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

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