, July 29, 2008 (ENS) - A 5.4 magnitude earthquake struck near the Los Angeles suburb of Chino Hills just before noon today, causing strong shaking and a power outage but just minor damage. The quake was felt from Arizona to Nevada.
The epicenter of the quake was located about 28 miles east-southeast of Los Angeles city center and 8.5 miles deep beneath the Earth's surface, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Nearly 50 aftershocks have been recorded so far, most of them small, said the USGS, the largest being a magnitude 3.8 temblor.
People who felt the earthquake can go online and report their observations on the USGS Did You Feel It? website. So far, about 35,000 people have reported feeling the Chino Hills earthquake.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says he spoke to Los Angeles and Chino Hills officials 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," the governor said.
Southern California Edison's transmission and generation systems were operating normally today after the quake, but some customers near the epicenter lost power.
Initially, an estimated 5,000 customers were without service in the areas of Chino Hills, Chino, La Habra, Diamond Bar and Pomona. The utility says power is expected to be fully restored tonight.
The earthquake was felt at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station site. There were no safety issues reported and no indications of any damage. Both units at the plant continue to operate normally.
Overlooking Chino Hills, California at sunset (Photo by Alan Yoo)
"Even though it felt like the strongest earthquake Chino Hills residents could remember, when the shaking stopped, all was well in Chino Hills," city officials said.
After the earthquake, police, fire, and city crews performed an assessment of the city of 78,957 residents and reported no major damages nor injuries.
The Gas Company did not identify any issues following an aerial assessment and physical check of two major gas lines in the City.
City crews checked water reservoirs, pump stations, traffic signals, and road conditions. Verizon reported a heavy increase in cell phone traffic which hampered cell phone service for a period of time.
The USGS says earthquakes cannot be predicted but earthquake-prone areas such as Los Angeles can be prepared. The federal agency is getting ready for a series of preparation events coming up in November.
The Great Southern California ShakeOut, a weeklong series of events featuring a massive earthquake drill on November 13, in Los Angeles, is one way for the public to get prepared for the next big earthquake. It is being sponsored by the Earthquake Country Alliance, of which the USGS is a founding member.
The ShakeOut drill centers on the ShakeOut Scenario, a realistic portrayal of what could happen in a major earthquake on the southern end of the San Andreas Fault.
Created by over 300 experts led by Dr. Lucy Jones of USGS, the scenario outlines a hypothetical 7.8 magnitude earthquake originating near the Salton Sea, which would have the potential to devastate the region.
With a goal of at least five million participants, the ShakeOut drill will be the largest in U.S. history. Southern Californians are signing up at www.shakeout.org/register, to pledge their family, business, or organization's participation in the drill.
Registered participants receive information on how to prepare and drill, connect with other participants, and encourage a dialogue within the community about earthquake preparedness. In the first six weeks of registration, over 1.9 million people have registered to be part of the drill.
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008. All rights reserved.
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