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Californians unnerved by pre-'big one' shake

Latest update : 2008-07-30

A 5.4 magnitude earthquake, felt from Los Angeles to San Diego, left no casualties but many shaken minds : was it a prelude to the 'big one', predicted to tear California from the continent ?

Californians steadied their shredded nerves on Tuesday after being spooked by an earthquake that rumbled across the region in an eerie foretaste of the long-awaited "Big One."
   
Buildings rumbled, windows rattled and bottles flew off supermarket shelves from Los Angeles to San Diego, but officials and emergency services breathed a sigh of relief as no serious injuries or damage was recorded.
   
However the 5.4 magnitude quake left many Californians all shook up.
   
Margarita Melo, 29, an office worker in Ontario, near the quake's epicenter in Chino Hills, said she was left feeling queasy after the tremor.
   
"It made me nauseous," Melo told an AFP reporter. "Everything was spinning. I kept thinking 'When is it going to end?' It went on for long time.
   
"The first thing I thought was duck and cover."
   
Lucio Carachure, 24, of Chino, was at home in a bathroom when the quake struck. "I just froze. I sat there in shock," Carachure said.
   
"I turned on the news and heard it was centered in Chino Hills and my first thought was 'Damn that was close.' A couple of picture fell off my wall but I checked my house and everything was fine."
   
Robert Rosales, a truck driver from 0ntario, near Chino Hills, said the quake had jolted him up and down.
   
"The first thing I thought was 'This is a strong earthquake.' I've lived here all my life. It went on a long time. It was up and down, then back and forth," Rosales said.
   
Jerome Howard, a resident of Anaheim Hills, south of Los Angeles, told CNN he felt his house "twist." "I was sitting in my garage in a chair working on the computer. All of a sudden I felt my garage twisting," Howard said.
   
"Then I felt a jolt. It was so violent that I fell out of the chair ... I don't know what the damage is to our home but I do know that the house actually twisted."
   
Nathan Blaylock said he had been lying in bed watching television in his penthouse apartment in downtown Los Angeles when the quake struck.
   
"It felt like someone hit the side of the building. It was rocking," Blaylock told the Los Angeles Times. "It scared me a little bit, then I realized what it was."
   
James Jenkins, a spokesman for a private airfield at Chino, described a series of "sharp, jarring, shakes."
   
"I have never felt anything that strong before," Jenkins said. "It didn't feel like a 5.4. I would have bet money it was over 6.0."
   
Katy Buckwalter, 24, a Chino housewife, said she had taken refuge under a doorway with her son.
   
"I immediately grabbed my three-year-old boy (Bryson) and thought we had to get somewhere safe so I stood under the doorway of the bathroom," she said. "I have never experienced one that big before."
   
Los Angeles' civic leaders were also caught up in the quake, with the tremor interrupting a meeting of the City Council.
   
"Earthquake! Earthquake! We've got an earthquake," said Council member Dennis Zine, as the quake shook the 27-story City Hall, local media reported.
   
Many Californians reacted to the earthquake by reaching for their cell phones -- immediately "maxing out" phone services according to the California Office of Emergency Services.
   
Geologists say an earthquake capable of causing widespread destruction is 99 percent certain of hitting California within the next 30 years.
   
A 6.7 earthquake in Los Angeles in 1994 left at least 60 people dead and did an estimated 10 billion dollars damage while a 6.9 quake in San Francisco in 1989 claimed the lives of 67 people.

Date created : 2008-07-30

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