KONTAN.CO.ID - LOS ANGELES. A powerful earthquake jolted Southern California on Thursday, touching off fires and damaging buildings in a desert town northeast of Los Angeles, but authorities said there were only minor injuries.
The 6.4 magnitude quake, the largest in two decades in the area, struck about 113 miles (182 km) northeast of Los Angeles near the city of Ridgecrest at around 1:30 p.m. EDT (1730 GMT), according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The quake struck in an area on the edge of Death Valley National Park.
The Kern County Fire Department said it was dealing with "multiple injuries," two house fires, small brush fires and gas leaks.
"However, we feel are going to have the upper hand on this," Kern County Fire Chief David Witt said at a briefing. "We don't know the exact number of injuries but so far they have been minor."
Ridgecrest Mayor Peggy Breeden said she had declared a state of emergency, a step that enables the town to receive help from outside agencies.
Ridgecrest Regional Hospital was being evacuated and admitted patients were being moved to other locations for fear of a powerful aftershock, she said.
Although no injuries had been reported, Breeden said she has asked residents to check on their neighbors, particularly the elderly who make up a significant portion of the town's population.
"They're all doing great. We're a close-knit community and everybody is working to take care of each other," she told Reuters by telephone.
The quake is the largest in Southern California since the 1994 magnitude 6.6 Northridge earthquake, USGS geophysicist Paul Caruso said. That quake, which was centered in a heavily populated area of Los Angeles, killed 57 people and caused billions of dollars of damage.
Ridgecrest may not get much respite in the hours and days ahead.
USGS seismologist Lucy Jones said more than 80 aftershocks had hit the area in the hours since the initial quake. "We should be expecting lots of aftershocks and some of them will be bigger than the 3s we've been having so far," Jones told a news conference.
"I think the chance of having a magnitude 5...is probably greater than 50-50," she said.
The USGS said the quake, initially reported as a magnitude 6.6, was very shallow - only 6.7 miles (10.7 km) - which would have amplified its effect.
The temblor 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.
Chuck Schlie, who was visiting Los Angeles for the first time with his family from St. Louis, said he was lying in bed at his hotel room in nearby Anaheim when he felt rumbling.
"I thought, wow, this is really weird. Am I going crazy?" Schlie said outside the historic TCL Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard. "If you've never experienced it, you think, Am I out of my mind? Why am I feeling like this?"
James Wilhorn, the manager of Howard's Mini Mart in Ridgecrest, said his gas station was the only one open in the area because of damage to others and the Independence Day holiday, and there was a line of 20 cars waiting to fill their tanks.
"I mopped up over 20 gallons (76 liters) of wine that fell over in addition to the beer, soda and the cooler that fell over. We have several thousand dollars worth of damage," Wilhorn said.
MORE QUAKES, POWER OUTAGES
The epicenter was very close to Ridgecrest, a town with a population of more than 27,600 in the high desert. The area has suffered earthquake swarms in the past, including a series of some 2,500 tremors over the course of five weeks in the summer of 1995.
According to poweroutage.us, 5,851 customers were without power in Kern County.
The Kern County Fire Department said the Ridgecrest Regional hospital was being evacuated in response to the quake. The hospital could not immediately be reached for comment.
Temperatures in the area were expected to climb to nearly 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8°C) on Thursday, with extremely low humidity, the Weather Channel said.
President Donald Trump said he had been briefed on the earthquake. "All seems to be very much under control!" Trump tweeted.
Editor: Wahyu Rahmawati
Editor: Wahyu Rahmawati