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NEWS & POLITICS - Magnitude-7.2 quake strikes Baja California

Magnitude-7.2 quake strikes Baja California
Associated Press
Posted: 04/04/2010 07:05:12 PM PDT
Updated: 04/05/2010 07:42:11 AM PDT

BAJA CALIFORNIA, Mexico — The 7.2-magnitude quake struck at 3:40 p.m., about 20 miles southeast of the border city of Mexicali, Mexico, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Three aftershocks of magnitudes 5.1, 4.5 and 4.3 followed within the hour.

The earthquake was felt the hardest in Mexicali, a bustling commerce center along the border. Baja California state Civil Protection Director Alfredo Escobedo said a man was killed when his home collapsed just outside of Mexicali, and that there were reports of more people trapped in homes in the area. Rescue teams with dogs and digging equipment were rushing to the city from nearby Tijuana.

The parking garage at Mexicali's city hall also collapsed, Escobedo said, but no one there was hurt. There was substantial damage on the U.S. side of the border in Calexico. Fire Chief Peter Mercado told KABC-TV of Los Angeles that there was structural damage and broken windows in an older section of town, as well as leaking gas lines and damage to the water system, but that no one was hurt. There also were scattered reports of stuck elevators in California and Mexico, but for most people who felt it, the quake was just a scare.

No tsunami warning was issued, but hundreds of people on Tijuana's crowded beach feared the worst and fled when they felt the ground shake, said Capt. Juan Manuel Hernandez, the city fire department's chief of aquatic rescue. The beach filled up again within an hour.

The quake was centered in an area has been seismically active lately but until Sunday the earthquakes had been largely of around magnitude 3.0. The main quake was initially reported as magnitude 6.9. The updated magnitude was still an estimate, but if it holds it would be California's largest temblor since the 7.3-magnitude Landers quake hit in 1992, Jones said. There were at least two other 7.2-magnitude quakes in the last 20 years. The main quake was felt hundreds of miles away in Phoenix, where residents rarely feel the earth shake.

The quake was felt in the fire and medical dispatch center in downtown Las Vegas. but there were no reports of damage or injuries, according to Tim Szymanski, a spokesman for Las Vegas Fire and Rescue. Strong shaking was reported across much of Southern California. The earthquake rattled buildings on the west side of Los Angeles and in the San Fernando Valley, interrupting Easter dinners. In San Diego, there were reports of shattered windows, broken pipes and water main breaks in private buildings, but no reports of injuries, San Diego Fire-Rescue Department spokesman Maurice Luque said. Coronado Bridge over San Diego Bay was briefly closed by the California Highway Patrol. Most of the 3,000 customers who lost power in southwestern Arizona, and the more than 5,000 who went dark in Southern California, regained power within minutes, utility officials said.

Associated Press writers Andrew Dalton and John Antczak in Los Angeles, John S. Marshall in San Francisco, and Matt Reed and Katie Oyan in Phoenix contributed to this report.

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