2 days, 2 major quakes and plenty of aftershocks to come
Jolted by two major earthquakes and spontaneous fires, Southern California residents are nervously combing through the damage as thousands of aftershocks rattle the region.
The epicenter of Friday’s magnitude 7.1 quake was 11 miles northeast of Ridgecrest, but was felt as far away as Mexico and Las Vegas, the US Geological Survey said.
It came just one day after a magnitude 6.4 tremor that also rocked the Ridgecrest area.
Here is the latest on the two earthquakes:
Ridgecrest, the desert town of 28,000, bore the brunt of both quakes’ wrath.
Officials responded to reports of injuries and fires in Kern County, where the town is located. But they didn’t give a specific number of casualties. Kern County Fire Chief David Witt said he wasn’t aware of any fatalities.
In addition to the injuries, much of Ridgecrest and the surrounding areas were plunged into darkness due to power outages.
About 130 residents from Bakersfield and Trona were staying in a temporary shelter, officials said.
Trona, a town of about 2,000 people, doesn’t have power or running water, the San Bernardino County Fire Department said.
As many as 50 structures were damaged by the magnitude 7.1 tremor Friday night.
Workers had been restoring power from the initial earthquake Thursday when Friday’s quake cut off power again.
The town was briefly cut off after officials shut down a highway connecting Trona to Ridgecrest due to rockslides and cracks after the earthquake, CNN affiliate KTLA reported. Water lines were also damaged, prompting the Federal Emergency Management Agency to deliver bottled water to Trona.
There have been more than 4,700 quakes since Thursday, geophysicist John Bellini said.
“They are coming in every 30 seconds, every minute,” he said.
The region has suffered an average of one aftershock per minute since Friday’s quake, the US Geological Survey said.
The emergency declarations
Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for Kern County on Thursday and for San Bernardino late Friday.
And President Donald Trump approved an emergency declaration for the region, meaning federal funds will be available to help in the recovery.
The threat of dangerous tremors isn’t over yet. On Friday, Caltech seismologist Lucy Jones said both of the recent major earthquakes are part of an ongoing, “very energetic system.”
“It is most likely that as few as 240 or as many as 410 such earthquakes may occur in the case that the sequence is reinvigorated by a larger aftershock,” the USGS said.
As of Saturday morning, the chance of another earthquake hitting the area with at least a magnitude-3 intensity was more than 99%.
And the chance of another magnitude-7 quake (or stronger) was 3%, the USGS said.
CNN’s Paul Vercammen, Alexandra Field, Carma Hassan, Joe Sutton, Sheena Jones, Sarah Moon, Braden Goyette, Deanna Hackney, Dave Alsup and Haley Brink contributed to this report.