A quake with a magnitude of 7.1 jolted much of California, cracking buildings, setting fires, breaking roads and causing several injuries while seismologists warned that large aftershocks were expected to continue for days, if not weeks. The Friday night quake proceeded 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 magnitudes 5.0.
The governor, Gavin Newsom, declared a state of emergency and warned residents to be wary of new tremors, after the southern part of the state was hit by a second significant earthquake in as many days. Updating reporters later on Saturday, Newsom said the quakes were “wake-up call” for the state and other parts of the US. Kern County’s fire chief, David Witt, said there were no known fatalities but the damage had not been fully assessed, officials were inspecting buildings and the US army corps of engineers was inspecting a nearby dam.
Los Angeles County Fire Department’s Urban Search and Rescue Team 136 and Hazardous Materials Team 811 were sent Friday night. A heavy rescue apparatus and urban search and rescue support vehicle with six firefighters also headed to areas that felt the brunt of the quake, according to the Orange County Fire Authority. San Bernardino first responders reported 911 calls coming in from northwest communities in the county, with homes shifted, foundation cracks and retaining walls down. Numerous gas leaks were detected in the Trona and Argus areas, according to San Bernardino Fire authorities. Firefighters secured leaks where possible and evacuated residents from homes where the leaks could not be secured, the agency announced. Just north-west of Ridgecrest, US naval air weapons station China Lake was evacuated of all nonessential personnel. The facility, which at more than 1.1m acres is larger than the state of Rhode Island, reported no injuries, Reuters said. The station said in a Facebook post normal operations were halted until further notice. It was not clear when they would resume. Experts warned that southern California could expect more significant shakes in the near future.
In the hours after the 7.1 tremors, seismologists recorded more than 600 aftershocks. The quakes were not expected to trigger larger faults including the San Andreas but expert’s saying that southern California should expect more quakes. In Los Angeles, 150 miles away, the quake was felt in offices in skyscrapers rocked for at least 30 seconds. At Dodger Stadium, the press box lurched.
< Alma Siddiqua
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