Looting has been reported in the town that experienced the worst of the two massive earthquakes that shook Southern California on Thursday and Friday.
Ridgecrest, which sits about 10 miles from the epicenters of both tremors, is just beginning to survey the extent of the damage from the quakes that cracked buildings, ignited fires and left thousands without power.
Mayor Peggy Breeden told KTLA that ‘bad people’ have been adding to the difficult situation by stealing from businesses where merchandise was rattled off the shelves and scattered all over the floor.
The first earthquake measuring at magnitude 6.4 shook the city on Thursday morning. It was determined to be a foreshock to an even larger 7.1 temblor that came 32 hours later on Friday night.
And the earth under Southern California has not stopped rumbling ever since the first shake on Thursday, with more than 1,400 aftershocks recorded shortly afterwards, scientists say.
There has been an average of one aftershock every minute since Friday’s quake in the southern part of the state, according to the United States Geological Survey website. Geophysicist John Bellini said that more than 4,700 quakes have been recorded since Thursday.
During a press conference Saturday morning, Kern County Fire Chief David Witt said there are no known fatalities from the earthquake but admitted that little is known about the destruction at this point.
‘We do feel like there is damage, but we don’t know the extent of it yet,’ Witt told reporters. ‘Nobody was trapped, no major collapses that we know of, but we are out there searching.’
He said damage evaluation is just picking up speed because ‘it’s hard to gather intel in darkness’.
Firefighters were seen battling flames at a mobile home park in Ridgecrest overnight after an electrical fire broke out.
Shockwaves from Friday’s quake were felt in Las Vegas and downtown Los Angeles as a rolling motion that seemed to last at least a half-minute.
Dr Lucy Jones, a seismologist for the California Institute of Technology (CalTech), said it was the most powerful to hit Southern California since another 7.1 temblor in the same area in 1999.
Jones also warned there is about a one-in-10 chance that another 7.0 quake could hit within the next week, and the the chance of a 5.0-magnitude quake ‘is approaching certainty’.
There have already been more than 1,700 aftershocks recorded since Thursday’s quake, which is being considered a ‘foreshock’ to Friday’s ‘mainshock’.
Compared to the first shock, the second was 11 times stronger, five times bigger and lasted longer.
The strength of the earthquake is the most important measure, referring to the amount of energy released and thus the amount of damage. Friday’s quake released 11 times the amount of energy of Thursday’s, while it measured five times larger on the seismograph.
‘It is really the energy or strength that knocks down buildings,’ according to the US Geological Survey (USGS).
Aftershocks from the mainshock could occur for years, Jones said. Seismologists have predicted that there is an 11 percent chance of a magnitude 7 or greater temblor hitting Southern California in the next week, with an eight to nine percent chance that it will be higher than Friday’s.
The quake struck at 8.19pm and was centered 11 miles from Ridgecrest in the same areas where the previous quake hit.
The quake was felt as far north as Sacramento, as far east as Las Vegas and as far south as Mexico.
The area in and around Ridgecrest, already trying to recover from the previous temblor, took the brunt of damage. Some 3,000 people were left without power and there were reports of cracked buildings.
‘There are significant reports of structure fires, mostly as a result of gas leaks or gas line breaks throughout the city’ and daybreak Saturday could show even more serious damage, said Mark Ghilarducci, director of California Office of Emergency Services.
Local fire and police officials said they were initially swamped by calls for medical and ambulance service. But there was ‘nothing but minor injuries such as cuts and bruises, by the grace of God,’ Ridgecrest Police Chief Jed McLaughlin said.
Two building fires – one involving a mobile home – were quickly doused, and there were several reports of natural gas leaks, but the lines were shut off, McLaughlin said.
For the second time in as many days, Ridgecrest Regional Hospital wheeled patients out of the building, some still hooked to IVs, CNN reported.
Several residents removed their mattresses from their homes and slept outside on Friday night because they felt it was safer than being inside.
‘When you lose all ability and sense of — sort of your own control of your surroundings, it is scary,’ CNN’s Sara Sidner said after interviewing Ridgecrest residents.
‘When the Earth is literally moving underneath you and things are falling off the walls and you don’t know how much longer it’s going to go on, it feels like eternity as one of these earthquakes roll through.’
Nearby, the tiny town of Trona, with about 2,000 residents, was reported to have at least one collapsed building. Roads were buckled or blocked, and police put out a call for bottled water for residents.
State Route 178 in Kern County was closed by a rockslide and had severe cracking. Fire officials reported ‘multiple injuries and multiple fires’ without providing details.
San Bernardino County firefighters reported cracked buildings and a minor injury.
‘Homes shifted, foundation cracks, retaining walls down,’ the department said on Twitter.
‘One injury (minor) with firefighters treating patient. No unmet needs currently.’
In downtown Los Angeles, 150 miles away, offices in skyscrapers rolled and rocked for at least 30 seconds.
The Los Angeles commuter rail service Metrolink said on Twitter it has stopped service in the city of 4 million people for the time being.
Andrew Lippman, who lives in suburban South Pasadena, was sitting outside and reading the paper when Friday’s quake hit and calculated it lasted 45 seconds.
‘I could see power lines swaying,’ he said.
Disneyland in Orange County and Six Flags Magic Mountain in Santa Clarita closed their rides.
Juan Fernandez and Sara Donchey, two news anchors for the local CBS affiliate in Los Angeles, were seen live on the air seeking shelter as the quake struck on Friday.
‘We are experiencing quite a bit of shaking if you bear with us a moment,’ Donchey said.
‘We’re making sure nothing is going to come down in the studio here.’
A visibly terrified Donchey then grabs Fernandez’s arm.
‘This is a very strong earthquake,’ she said.
‘8:21 here and we’re experiencing very strong shaking. I think we need to get under the desk Juan.’
Donchey then got under the desk and the station cut to a commercial break.
The tremor in Vegas forced the NBA to cancel its nationally televised Summer League game between the New York Knicks and the New Orleans Pelicans.
Television footage from the game at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas shows the players and coaches walking off the court after tremors were felt throughout the arena.
Images also show the scoreboard and speakers attached to the roof wobbling back and forth as the aftershocks take effect.
The arena was filled to capacity as basketball fans eagerly anticipated the debut of No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson of the Pelicans.
Williamson and his team were squaring off against another prized Duke product, RJ Barrett, who was picked No. 3 overall by the New York Knicks.
Source – Daily Mail