San Francisco, A massive earthquake measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale hit Southern California, swaying buildings, cracking foundations and forcing panicked residents to sleep on the streets a day after a 6.4-magnitude temblor hit the US state.
According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), the latest quake occurred at a depth of 0.9 km at 8.33 p.m. (local time) on Friday. It was the strongest quake to have hit Southern California in 20 years since another magnitude 7.1 quake dubbed “Hector Mine” struck in 1999.
It struck 11 miles northeast of Ridgecrest and was five times bigger than Thursday’s earthquake, also centred near Ridgecrest.
Ridgecrest is a town of around 30,000 residents located 250 km north of the state’s biggest city, Los Angeles, where the quake could be felt.
In Ridgecrest, multiple fires broke out and several injuries were reported, according to Kern County spokeswoman Megan Person. The county has activated an emergency operations centre and nearly 2,000 people are without power, officials said, according to US media reports.
“Homes shifted, foundation cracks, retaining walls down. One injury (minor) with firefighters treating patient,” the Fire Department of San Bernardino County said on Twitter.
According to the department, reports suggested that “damage is more significant than yesterday’s quake”, and said they were also tackling gas leaks. However, there were no immediate reports of casualties.
The scientists said that tremors were felt all the way in Las Vegas on Friday, similarly like the earthquake on Thursday.
Crowds at a Los Angeles Dodgers baseball game were seen leaving their seats when the quake struck, although the players themselves continued playing.
In Las Vegas, a basketball match between the New York Knicks and the New Orleans Pelicans was abandoned because of the tremors, the BBC reported.
Scientists said that Thursday’s quake produced more than 1,400 aftershocks and left what looks like a “scar across the desert”.
Bakersfield resident Giovanna Gomez was at home with her family when their house swayed and the water in her pool overflowed. They ran outside.
Bakersfield is in Kern County about 110 miles from Ridgecrest.
“It (Friday earthquake) was about a minute long. Far larger than the one that (happened) yesterday. It was a smooth roll going back and forth,” Gomez was quoted as saying by a media report.
Renowned seismologist Lucy Jones said on Twitter that both earthquakes occurred on the same fault and were a “part of the same sequence”.
“You know (how) we say we (have a) 1 in 20 chance that an earthquake will be followed by something bigger? This is that 1 in 20 time.
“Like any quake, Friday’s M7.1 has a 1 in 20 of being followed by something even bigger. Smaller quakes – M5s are likely and a M6 is quite possible,” Jones said.