Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Magnitude 5.4 quake rumbles Southern California


A magnitude 5.4 earthquake hit Southern California at approximately 11:42 a.m. yesterday, centered three miles southwest of Chino Hills and seven miles south of Pomona, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Residents on the South Coast experienced gentle shaking and emergency dispatchers immediately directed fire and police personnel to check for damage. The larger quake was followed by a series of smaller aftershocks, according to the USGS.

For the Record: An earlier version of this story reported the magnitude at 5.8 based on preliminary reports from the USGS. That figure has since been revised to magnitude 5.4.

Witnesses reported feeling strong vibrations in neighboring Orange County and mild shaking was felt as far away as Paso Robles, San Diego and Las Vegas. Authorities have reported minor damage and minor injuries in the greater Los Angeles area.
In downtown Los Angeles, tall buildings swayed from side to side for a few seconds and workers poured into the streets. Los Angeles city officials evacuated City Hall. People returned to many buildings after approximately 15 minutes.
A spokesman for Los Angeles International Airport said there were no flight delays as a result of the quake. Magnitude 5 quakes are considered moderate but are still capable of causing considerable damage.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger released the following statement approximately one hour after the quake hit Southern California.
“I have spoken with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, acting Mayor Wendy Greuel, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, and Chino Hills City Manager Doug La Belle to check on the status of their communities and to offer them whatever assistance they need from the state.
“Our state Office of Emergency Services has reached out to local governments in the affected area to ensure that levees, bridges and other critical infrastructure are inspected and declared safe. We are activating our regional and state emergency operations centers and will continue monitoring the situation closely.”
Santa Barbara city fire officials took the opportunity to remind the public to be prepared for a major earthquake. Residents should develop an emergency family plan that includes how and where to reunite if separated.
Authorities also suggested knowing where and how to shut off utilities such as gas and water.
If outdoors during an earthquake, fire officials recommended moving away from trees, signs or power lines. Motorists should pull over and stop, avoid overpasses and power lines, and remain in their vehicle until the shaking stops.
Those indoors should avoid tall shelves or furniture, seek cover under a table or desk, and remain calm, authorities said.
Immediately after the earthquake, check on family members. Fire officials also recommended checking for gas leaks and inspecting the foundation, walls and chimneys if indoors.

Reuters news service contributed to this report.

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