The Latest: 7.1 Earthquake Felt in Southern California

The Associated Press
AP

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A quake with a magnitude as large as 7.1 jolted much of California, cracked buildings, set fires, broke roads and caused several injuries, authorities and residents said.

The quake — preceded by Thursday’s 6.4-magnitude temblor in the Mojave Desert — was the largest Southern California temblor in at least 20 years and was followed by a series of large and small aftershocks.

It hit at 8:19 p.m. and was centered 11 miles from Ridgecrest in the same areas where the previous quake hit. But it was felt as far north as Sacramento, as far east as Las Vegas and as far south as Mexico.

Early magnitude estimates from the U.S. Geological Survey wavered between 6.9 and 7.1.

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

Megan Person, director of communications for the Kern County Fire Department, said there were reports of multiple injuries and multiple fires, but she didn’t have details.

The county opened an emergency shelter. Meanwhile, a rockslide closed State Route 178 in Kern River Canyon, where photos from witnesses also showed that a stretch of roadway had sunk.

San Bernardino County firefighters reported cracked buildings and one minor injury.

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

Andrew Lippman, who lives in suburban South Pasadena, was sitting outside and reading the paper when Friday’s quake hit.

“It just started getting stronger and stronger, and I looked into my house and the lamp started to sway. I could see power lines swaying,” he said. “This one seemed 45 (seconds)… I’m still straightening pictures.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom activated the state Office of Emergency Services operations center “to its highest level.”

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Latest on Southern California’s strongest earthquake in 20 years (all times local):

8:30 p.m.

An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.9 has jolted Southern California, but there are no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the quake hit at 8:19 p.m. Friday and was centered 11 miles from Ridgecrest, where a magnitude 6.4 quake struck on Thursday. The agency initially said the earthquake had a magnitude of 7.1.

The quake was felt downtown as a rolling motion that seemed to last at least a half-minute. It was felt as far away as Las Vegas, and the USGS says it also was felt in Mexico.

If the preliminary magnitude is correct, it would be the largest Southern California quake in 20 years.

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4 p.m.

Seismologists say there have been 1,700 aftershocks in the wake of the strongest earthquake to hit Southern California in 20 years but the chances of another large temblor are diminishing.

A magnitude 5.4 quake at 4:07 a.m. Friday is so far the strongest aftershock of Thursday’s 6.4 quake, which struck in the Mojave Desert near the town of Ridgecrest.

Zachary Ross of the California Institute of Technology says the number of aftershocks might be slightly higher than average. He also says a quake of that size could continue producing aftershocks for years.

The quake caused some damage to buildings and roads in and around Ridgecrest.

However, seismologists say it’s unlikely the quake will affect any fault lines away from the immediate area, such as the mighty San Andreas.

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1:20 p.m.

The city of Los Angeles is planning to reduce the threshold for public notifications by its earthquake early warning app, but officials say it was in the works before Southern California’s big earthquake Thursday.

The ShakeAlert LA app was designed to notify users of magnitudes of 5.0 or greater and when a separate intensity scale predicts potentially damaging shaking.

Robert de Groot of the U.S. Geological Survey says lowering the magnitude to 4.5 was already being worked on and had been discussed with LA as recently as a day before Thursday’s magnitude 6.4 quake centered in the Mojave Desert.

The shaking intensity levels predicted for LA were below damaging levels, so an alert was not triggered.

Mayor’s office spokeswoman Andrea Garcia also says the lower magnitude threshold has been in the planning stages and an update to the system is expected this month.

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7:05 a.m.

A vigorous aftershock sequence is following the strongest earthquake to hit Southern California in 20 years.

A magnitude 5.4 quake at 4:07 a.m. Friday is so far the strongest aftershock of Thursday’s magnitude 6.4 jolt, and was felt widely.

Seismologists had said there was an 80% probability of an aftershock of that strength.

Thursday’s big quake struck in the Mojave Desert, about 150 miles (240 kilometers) northeast of Los Angeles, near the town of Ridgecrest, which suffered damage to buildings and roads.

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9 p.m.

The strongest earthquake in 20 years shook a large swath of Southern California and parts of Nevada on the July 4th holiday, rattling nerves and causing injuries and damage in a town near the epicenter, followed by a swarm of ongoing aftershocks.

The 6.4 magnitude quake struck at 10:33 a.m. Thursday in the Mojave Desert, about 150 miles (240 kilometers) northeast of Los Angeles, near the town of Ridgecrest, California.

Kern County Fire Chief David Witt says multiple injuries and two house fires were reported in the town of 28,000. Emergency crews were also dealing with small vegetation fires, gas leaks and reports of cracked roads.

Witt says 15 patients were evacuated from the Ridgecrest Regional Hospital as a precaution and out of concern for aftershocks.

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