The biggest Southern California earthquake in nearly 20 years shook a region extending from Sacramento to Las Vegas to Mexico as it cracked houses, set fires, destroyed highways, but caused only minor injuries.
According to scientists, more than 1,400 aftershocks followed the quake. Ridgecrest Mayor Peggy Breeden said Saturday morning, July, 6, an even stronger quake—with a magnitude of 7.1—rattled the region, leaving residents traumatized, reported by CNN.
“Many of them are sleeping outside tonight,” Breeden said. “They’re fearful to be in their homes. Many are choosing to just be with their neighbors … in their sidewalks, in their driveways, and some of them are in the streets.”
According to the United States Geological Survey website, there has been an average of one aftershock per minute since the quake on Friday in the southern part of the state.
“I would probably start taking some stuff off the walls if they’re not already down,” Ridgecrest Police Chief Jed McLaughlin said Saturday morning. “Make sure you’re not sleeping under something that’s still hung up.”
He said residents should remain vigilant for the next two weeks.
“This isn’t going to stop in the near future,” he said. “The aftershocks, they haven’t slowed down since the 7.1 (magnitude earthquake). For a period of time there was constant vibration.”
Ridgecrest, already attempting to recover from the earthquake of Thursday, took the brunt of the damage. There were several thousand people without power, and reports of cracked buildings occurred.
Ridgecrest Police Chief Jed McLaughlin said two building fires were quickly doused—one involving a mobile home. Several reports of gas leaks were reported, but the lines were shut off.
Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for a section in Southern California that experienced significant damage after the 7.1 earthquake on Friday night.
The declaration provides immediate state assistance to San Bernardino County, citing conditions of “extreme peril to the safety of persons and property” in the county due to the earthquake.
There is about a 1-in-10 chance that another 7.0 quake could hit within the next week, and chance of a 5.0-magnitude quake “is approaching certainty,” said Lucy Jones, a seismologist at the California Institute of Technology and a former science adviser at the U.S. Geological Survey.
Includes reporting from The Associated Press.