QUAKE UPDATE: Californians cope with recovery, fear of more aftershocks


Associated Press

RIDGECREST, Calif.

Crews in California assessed damage to cracked and burned buildings, broken roads, leaking water and gas lines and other infrastructure Saturday after the largest earthquake the region has seen in nearly 20 years jolted a remote stretch of country from Sacramento to Mexico.

No fatalities or major injuries were reported after Friday night’s 7.1-magnitude earthquake, and officials said damage did not initially appear as bad as expected and fewer than 200 people were in shelters.

But forecast temperatures of around 100 degrees (38 Celsius) and warnings by seismologists that large aftershocks were expected to continue for days — if not weeks — prompted further precautions.

The California National Guard was sending 200 troops, logistical support and aircraft, said Maj. Gen. David Baldwin. The Pentagon had been notified, and the entire California Military Department was put on alert, he said.

The quake struck at 8:19 p.m. Friday and was centered 11 miles (18 kilometers) from Ridgecrest, the same area of the Mojave Desert where a 6.4-magnitude temblor hit just a day earlier.

April Hamlin, a Ridgecrest native, said she was “already on edge” when the second quake hit. She and her three kids initially thought it was another aftershock.

“But it just kept on intensifying,” she said. “The TV went over, hanging by the cord. We heard it break. We heard glass breakage in the other rooms, but all we could do was stay where we were until it stopped.”

Nearby Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, the Navy’s largest single landholding, said in a Facebook post that nonessential workers were evacuated and operations were halted “until further notice.”

In San Bernardino County, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency amid “conditions of extreme peril to the safety of persons and property.”

The California Office of Emergency Services brought in cots, water and meals and set up cooling centers, Director Mark Ghilarducci said.

State highway officials shut down a 30-mile (48-kilometer) section of State Route 178 between Ridgecrest and the town of Trona southwest of Death Valley, due to a rockslide and severe cracking. California Department of Transportation spokeswoman Christine Knadler said crews worked through the night to patch the roadway, but it remained rough and uneven.

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