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Earthquake swarm puts California town on edge

By Associated Press


BRAWLEY, Calif. >> A series of small to moderate earthquakes that shattered windows and knocked trailer homes off their foundations is putting people in this small farming town east of San Diego on edge as they continue to feel jolts that scientists said could last for days.

The largest quake, registered at a magnitude 5.5, struck at 1:57 p.m. Sunday and was centered about three miles northwest of Brawley, said Robert Graves, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey. Another quake about an hour and a half earlier registered at magnitude 5.3.

No injuries were reported.

Several dozen earthquakes with magnitudes of at least 3.5 shook the same area near the southern end of the Salton Sea, Graves said.

By dawn today, the U.S. Geological Survey website showed there had been dozens of aftershocks in Imperial County, the largest a magniutude-4.9 at 9:41 p.m. Sunday. There was also a 3.0 at 12:32 a.m. Monday.

"The type of activity that we're seeing could possibly continue for several hours or even days," Graves said.

The quakes pushed 20 mobile homes at a trailer park off their foundations and rendered them inhabitable, said Maria Peinado, a spokeswoman for the Imperial County Emergency Operations Center. A red-tiled roof apparently collapsed and landed on a wooden fence.

Sporadic power outages, at one point affecting 2,500 Imperial Irrigation District customers, also prompted authorities to evacuate 49 patients from one of the county's two hospitals, Peinado said. Police also received numerous calls about gas leaks and water line breaks.

"It's not uncommon for us to have earthquakes out here, but at this frequency and at this magnitude it's fairly unusual," said George Nava, the mayor of Brawley, a town of 25,000.

"And the fact that the aftershocks keep coming are a little alarming," he said.

At the El Sol Market, food packages fell from shelves and littered the aisles.

"It felt like there was quake every 15 minutes. One after another. My kids are small and they're scared and don't want to come back inside," said Mike Patel, who manages Townhouse Inn & Suites.

A TV came crashing down and a few light fixtures broke inside the motel, Patel said.

The first quake, with a magnitude of 3.9, occurred at 10:02 a.m. The USGS said more than 300 aftershocks struck the same approximate epicenter.

Some shaking was felt along the San Diego County coast in Del Mar, some 120 miles from the epicenter, as well as in southwestern Arizona and parts of northern Mexico.

USGS seismologist Lucy Jones said earthquake swarms are characteristic of the region, known as the Brawley Seismic Zone.

"The area sees lots of events at once, with many close to the largest magnitude, rather than one main shock with several much smaller aftershocks," Jones said.

The last major swarm was in 2005, following a magnitude-5.1 quake, she said.

Sunday's quake cluster occurred in what scientists call a transition zone between the Imperial and San Andreas faults, so they weren't assigning the earthquakes to either fault, Graves said.

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rayhawaii wrote:
California is going to sink in the ocean someday. I think that tsunami will be twice as big as Japan and can say goodbye to our tourist industry when Waikiki is wiped out being so close to the ocean. Sorry for everyone else living close to the ocean, me one of them. Everything of value will go sky high, people with solar going to be happy they made that investment when no more power for a few months. Back to the stone age. Yeah yeah yeah we heard it before right. Like no one wanted to listen to the guy in Japan about him spending millions to have a tsunami dam built 50 years ago and his town only one spared. Never mind we heard it all before never gonna happen right in our lifetime right.
on August 26,2012 | 02:04PM
nomakeshame wrote:
Don't worry about the Western half of California sliding into the ocean, more worry about half the Big Island sliding in. No time to scream, no time to run. The inside of Diamond Head Crater might be the safest place on Oahu when that happens.
on August 26,2012 | 06:09PM
oahuresident wrote:
Actually Diamond Head is not high enough. Last big island slide about 90,000 years ago resulted in a 1000 foot tsunami that would kill most of Hawaii's residents nearly instantaneously. Need to live in a high area and happen to be home at the time. The earthquake from the slide would likely destroy your home, so you might still not survive.
on August 27,2012 | 06:34PM
Dragonman wrote:
Never say never, could happen. Read posts on Okinawa typhoon.
on August 26,2012 | 02:20PM
Tony96822 wrote:
lol, RayHawaii. Its all true dat.
on August 26,2012 | 05:31PM
dlum003 wrote:
The Cascadia fault off Oregon coast is the monster nobody knows about. When it rips open it will devastate the west coast and Hawaii. Scientists say it is due for the big one within the next 50 years or so, google it.
on August 27,2012 | 06:42AM
SteveToo wrote:
Well the country will become more conservative when Hawaii and Calf drown.
on August 27,2012 | 12:05PM
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