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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

NEWS & POLITICS - Easter Sunday Earthquake

Easter Sunday Earthquake

by Lynn Russ


The Easter Sunday earthquake that struck the Baja California region still has nerves a little rattled. The quake measured an astounding 7.2 on the Richter scale, compared to the 7.0 Haiti earthquake, which caused massive casualties and debilitated the small island country. Luckily, damage and loss of life was much less in comparison. Even with less damage, the sheer size of the quake and the large area affected made the Easter Sunday quake the worst one felt in the area in over two decades.


There have been two reported deaths resulting from the quake. One person was killed when a house collapsed in Colonia Nueva and the other person died in the downtown area of the capital city of Mexicali. Over 200 people had injuries from the quake and thousands were considered to be homeless due to structural damage to their homes. Four shelters in Baja California were set up to accommodate anyone in need.


The Baja capital city of Mexicali, home to approximately one million people, sustained some damage, while the outer rural regions to the south sustained the bulk of the damage. Calexico also reported damage to structures. The downtown area of Calexico is primarily made up of historic buildings dating back to the 1930s and 1940s. Due to age, these structures were not up to current earthquake codes. Many of the historic buildings had cracks and damaged ceilings. Blocks of the historic portion of downtown were closed to the public while broken glass, cracked facades, fallen bricks and collapsed ceiling tiles were cleared away.


Aside from disrupted downtown businesses, the border crossing from Mexicali and Calexico also had to deal with a short-term disruption in border entry procedures until engineers cleared the building's safety. All border crossing operations are currently back to normal.


Phone and electricity service were also disrupted for countless citizens on both sides of the border. The Comision Federal de Electricidad was working hard to fix any and all damage to lines due to swaying and fallen service poles. All 27 substations of the government-owned utility company were correcting issues and quickly getting everyone’s power and phone service restored. Tijuana, Baja California, and El Centro, California, also suffered some minor damage. California had damage to water mains and some water storage facilities.


The quake was felt as far away as Phoenix, Arizona, and Las Vegas, Nevada. There have also been hundreds of aftershocks felt throughout the region, some measuring over 5.0 on the Richter scale.



A crack in the middle of a road in Mexicali, Mexico, after the earthquake. Photograph: La Cronica De Mexicali/EPA

A car passes over a crack in a Mexican highway after a magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck on April 4, 2010.

Photograph by Guillermo Arias, AP