California earthquake could have been as devastating as Christchurch 2011


California earthquake Ridgecrest
California has been shaken by a strong quake. The California earthquake measuring at magnitude 6.4 struck at 5:33am on Friday (NZ time) in the Mojave Desert's Searles Valley.

The California earthquake struck 160km north of Los Angeles at 8.7km deep, and was felt in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, the US Geological Survey (USGS) reported.

At least 85 aftershocks of 2.5 or greater were recorded after the earthquake, according to CNN Meteorologist Haley Brink. The largest of them reached magnitude 4.6. Lucy Jones of the USGS called it a “robust” series and said there is a 50% chance of another large quake in the next week.

There were no immediate reports of serious damage or injuries after the earthquake struck. However, Jones warned much larger aftershocks should be expected within the next 24 hours.

The Kern County Fire Department was responding to “nearly 2 dozen incidents ranging from medical assistance to structure fires in and around the city of Ridgecrest,” according to the department’s Twitter account.

April Rodriguez was at home in Trona when she felt a smaller quake followed by a larger one “that didn’t stop,” she told CNN.

“We were panicked trying to get out of the house because everything is falling out of the cabinets, off the shelves, off the walls. … They were flying like missiles off the shelves.”

John Vidale, professor of seismology at the University of Southern California (USC), said if the earthquake had hit the city of LA, there could have been major consequences.

“It’s a big enough earthquake to cause considerable damage,” he told the Guardian, comparing it to the 6.3-magnitude earthquake in the city of Christchurch in New Zealand, which flattened parts of the city in 2011 and killed 185 people. “If this had hit in Los Angeles, there would probably be a five or 10-mile area that was badly damaged. We’ve come along way since the 1970s, but there are still a lot of vulnerable structures out there.”

This is the biggest earthquake to strike the southern Californian region since 1994. That quake measured 6.6 and killed dozens, the Los Angeles Times reports, but struck a heavily populated area in the San Fernando Valley. 


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