Quake rocks Los Angeles

by Michael THURSTON, Agence France-Presse

Posted at Mar 29 2014 11:45 PM | Updated as of Mar 30 2014 07:45 AM

LOS ANGELES - A shallow 5.1-magnitude earthquake rocked the Los Angeles area Friday causing power cuts, gas leaks and bursting water mains, and stopping rides at Disneyland.

While no injuries were reported, objects fell from shelves and furniture toppled over, according to photos posted on social media, while TV pictures showed a car flipped over by a rockslide.

The quake, which hit at 9:10 pm (0410 GMT Saturday), was the biggest in the Los Angeles area for six years, since a 5.5-magnitude earthquake struck nearby Chino Hills in 2008. Friday's quake came after one measuring 4.4 earlier this month.

The quake's epicenter was near La Habra, about 22 miles (35 km) southeast of downtown Los Angeles, and could be felt across the LA metropolitan area, including in Hollywood.

Disneyland shut down rides as a precaution, according to NBC4 television. A Disneyland spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

Car alarms were reported to have been set off in some areas by the five-mile-deep quake, which was initially registered as 5.3 magnitude but later revised down.

Hannah Hirzel, 17, who lives four miles from the epicenter, said: "I was home alone and I ran out of the house... I was sitting where my bookshelf fell, but I ran too quick."

The quake, which lasted up to half a minute, was preceded and followed by a number of smaller ones.

The LA County Fire Department received reports of gas leaks and scattered damage, said spokesman Ed Pickett, while police in Fullerton, about fives miles from La Habra, reported several water main breaks, spokesman Jeff Stuart told KCAL 9 television.

A rock slide took place in Carbon Canyon, about six miles from La Habra.

Video showed a white car flipped over on its roof, apparently by the rock fall. The driver escaped with no major injuries, according to CBS 2 television.

At Dodger Stadium, the quake briefly interrupted the baseball game between the LA Dodgers and the Angels.

A power outage attributed to the quake cut electricity supplies to nearly 2,000 customers in the La Mirada area, near La Habra, said a spokeswoman for the Southern California Edison utility company.

Ring of Fire

California has long braced for the "Big One."

The western US state is on the so-called Ring of Fire, which circles the Pacific and has produced a number of devastating quakes including Japan's March 2011 quake-tsunami, which killed thousands of people.

Seismologists say a quake capable of causing widespread destruction is 99 percent certain to hit California in the next 30 years.

A 6.7-magnitude earthquake in 1994 in Northridge, north west of LA, left at least 60 people dead and caused an estimated $10 billion damage, while a 6.9 quake in San Francisco in 1989 claimed the lives of 67 people.

USGS seismologist Robert Graves said southern California has had a relative "drought" of earthquakes over the last two decades, which might be ending.

"We might be getting back to the more normal rate before the Northridge earthquake happened," he said. "It means it was quiet, but it's not quiet now."

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