0515 GMT July 17, 2019
The quake struck at about 8:20 p.m. (0320 GMT) near the town of Ridgecrest south of Death Valley National Park, about 125 miles (202 km) northeast of Los Angeles, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS), Reuters reported.
It was followed by at least 16 aftershocks of magnitude 4 or above, the USGS said, which also warned of a 50 percent or better chance of another magnitude 6 quake in the days ahead.
“We’ve got fires, we’ve got gas leaks, we’ve got injuries, we’ve got people without power,” Ridgecrest Mayor Peggy Breeden said by telephone. “We’re dealing with it as best we can.”
Ridgecrest Police Chief Jed McLaughlin said so far only minor injuries had been reported.
Friday’s quake was the most powerful to hit Southern California since another 7.1 temblor struck the Mojave Desert near the Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Base in 1999, said Lucy Jones, a seismologist for the California Institute of Technology (CalTech).
California Governor Gavin Newsom has requested federal assistance and has put the Office of Emergency Services (OES) on highest alert.
Ridgecrest was dealing with a significant number of fires, mostly caused by ruptured gas lines, Ghilarducci said. There were reports that a building had collapsed in the small town of Trona, he said.
A rockslide closed State Road 178 in Kern County and video posted a twitter showed a stretch of road had buckled.
A swarm of aftershocks have jolted the high desert region of Southern California since a 6.4 quake on Thursday morning near Ridgecrest. Only a few injuries were reported in Thursday’s quake but two houses caught fire from broken gas pipes, officials said.
The Los Angeles Metrolink commuter rail service said on Twitter it had halted service in the city of 4 million people in the immediate aftermath of the latest quake.
The last major destructive temblor to strike Southern California was the 6.7 magnitude Northridge quake in 1994, which was centered in a highly populated area of Los Angeles. It killed 57 people and caused billions of dollars in property damage.
Initial damage reports were much lighter from Friday’s quake, which unleashed greater force than the Northridge event but was much less consequential because it was centered in a remote, sparsely populated area of the high desert.
The quake, however, was felt over a wide region, with shaking reported as far south as San Diego, as far north as San Francisco and Reno, Nevada, and as far east as Phoenix, according to crowd-sourced data collected by the USGS.
Pools in Los Angeles sloshed wildly and TV cameras at major league baseball’s Dodger Stadium were shaking as they filmed the night game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres.
A local CBS anchorwoman ducked under her desk in midst of a newscast as shouts of “get under a desk” were heard in the background when Friday’s quake was felt throughout Los Angeles.