LOS ANGELES: A magnitude 6.4 earthquake which struck Southern California on Thursday caused extensive damage, though no casualties have been reported.
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, California.”
Ridgecrest Mayor Peggy Breedon said the city was dealing with fires and broken gas lines, as well as falling objects that hit people, as the city endured many aftershocks.
The San Bernardino County Fire Department, meanwhile, said that “buildings and roads have sustained varying degrees of damage.”
This included “buildings with minor cracks; broken water mains; power lines down; rock slides on certain roads,” but no injuries or fires.
The quake is the largest in Southern California since the 1994 magnitude 6.6 Northridge earthquake, which was centred in a heavily populated area of Los Angeles and caused billions of dollars of damage, US Geological Survey geophysicist Paul Caruso said.
The USGS said the quake, initially reported as a magnitude 6.6, was very shallow – only 8.7 km – which would have amplified its effect.
The temblor, which struck at around 1:30pm EDT in an area on the edge of Death Valley National Park, was felt throughout Los Angeles, as far north as Fresno, and as far east as Las Vegas, Nevada. It was even felt south of the border in Mexico, where buildings were evacuated in the towns of Tijuana and Mexicali, according to Baja State officials.
According to European quake agency EMSC, the quake was felt in an area inhabited by some 20 million people.
“We were just panicked trying to get out of the house because everything was just falling out of the cabinets, off the shelves, off the walls, pictures ... They were flying like missiles off the shelves,” resident April Rodriguez in Trona, California, south of Ridgecrest, said on CNN.
According to poweroutage.us, there were some 5,851 customers without power in Kern County.
USGS seismologist Lucy Jones said on CNN the area would be hit by many more aftershocks in the coming days, and could even be hit by a larger quake.
A magnitude 6.4 quake is considered strong and is capable of causing severe damage. -- Reuters