‘State of Emergency’: Strongest earthquake in 20 years rattles California

A STATE of Emergency has been declared in parts of California after a powerful 6.4 magnitude earthquake rattled the region, causing buildings to sway, fires to erupt and highways to crack.

The quake was shallow, striking at a depth of just 8km near the town of Ridgecrest, home to about 28,000 people in Southern California, 240km northeast of Los Angeles, about 10.33am local time on the July 4 holiday.

More than 150 aftershocks have been recorded in the hours following the initial quake, the epicentre of which was located in the Mojave Desert in the Seares Valley, according to the United States Geological Survey.


It’s the strongest earthquake to hit the region in 20 years after a 7.1 magnitude quake shook the area in 1999.

There have been reports of damaged buildings, downed power lines and broken water mains.

A State of Emergency has been declared in Ridgecrest, where emergency services are responding to more than 20 incidents including medical emergencies, structure fires, and rock and mudslides in and around the city.


Cora Burke, a waitress at Midway Cafe in Ridgecrest said she almost had a heart attack when the quake hit.

“It’s just a rolling feeling inside the building, inside the cafe and all of a sudden everything started falling off the shelf, glasses, the refrigerator and everything in the small refrigerator fell over,” she said.

Footage from Ridgecrest showed firefighters hosing down flames rising from homes, and there were also power outages in the city of 28,000 residents.


The National Weather Service tweeted that the quake was also felt as far away as Las Vegas, while buildings shook in Los Angeles.

Mark Leach, an engineer who lives in LA, told the LA Times the quake “felt like it went on for 30 seconds”.

Mr Leach was in his garage about to drive to a July 4 barbecue in Los Angeles when the shaking started.

“About halfway through it I dashed out into the road completely freaking out,” he said.

“You can see some cracking in the seams of the drywall and stuff was knocked off the shelves — books and CDs and stuff.”

Disneyland also temporarily shut down rides following the quake.

A guest at the park shared a video online of the moment chandeliers rocked back and forth in Carnation Café, a restaurant on the park’s Main Street.

Filmmaker Ava DuVernay tweeted, “Been living in Los Angeles all my life. That was the longest earthquake I’ve ever experienced. Not jerky. Smooth and rolling. But it was loooong. It was so long I thought for the first time ever “Is this the big one?” Damn. Respect Mother Nature. She’s the boss.”

Seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones told CNN there is a 50 per cent chance of another powerful quake in the neck week, with a 1 in 20 chance that a quake stronger than Thursday’s could hit in the next few days.

While there have been multiple reports of injuries, mainly caused by broken glass and falling shelves, incredibly there have been no reports of any deaths.