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5.4 quake shakes Southern California

July 29, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
A magnitude 5.4 earthquake hit late Tuesday morning two miles southwest of Chino Hills in San Bernardino County. The jolt was felt from Los Angeles to San Diego, and slightly in Las Vegas. It caused buildings to sway and triggered some precautionary evacuations. The quake was initially estimated at 5.6, then revised to 5.8, but has been since has been downgraded to a magnitude-5.4 by the U.S. Geological Survey. At least 27 aftershocks quickly followed, according to USGS seismologist Kate Hutton from Caltech. The largest were magnitude-3.8.

Caltech officials say the heaviest shaking was in the suburban Diamond Bar area. However, the quake was reportedly felt as far east as Las Vegas.

Officials first said there would be a five percent chance the tremor was a precursor to a larger quake, but that chance has been downgraded to one percent.

Minor structural damage was reported throughout Los Angeles, along with five minor injuries and people stuck in elevators, said City Councilwoman Wendy Greuel, serving as acting mayor. There are no reports of any major injuries or damage in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and San Diego counties.

Flooding occurred on three floors of a Macy's store in Woodland Hills after two pipes burst as a result of the quake. There have also been some reports of glass breaking and items falling from shelves at some locations in the Pomona area, although none of the incidents were serious.

There is a report of a water main break near Cal State L.A. that has lifted the roadway. Eastern Avenue and City Terrace Drive in City Terrace have reportedly buckled and a section of the intersection has been blocked off. Caltrans checked out a reported gap on a bridge connecting eastbound 91 Freeway and the northbound 241 Corridor in Anaheim and found no problem. The freeway has not been shut down.

The quake struck at 11:42 a.m. PDT. Buildings swayed in downtown Los Angeles and San Diego for several seconds. Some workers evacuated buildings.

Officials say it will be days before they can pinpoint from which exact fault Tuesday's earthquake occurred. However, they say it likely came from an area where three faults meet on the north end of the Elsinore Fault.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has not received any reports of earthquake-related power outages or impacts to the water system. Southern California Edison says power had been restored to all but about 100 customers in and around Chino. As many as 5,000 customers had temporarily lost electrical service after the quake.

The California Office of Emergency Services is also urging Southern Californians to cut back on both cell and landline phone calls. Officials say phone lines have been jammed because family and friends are checking on one another. They say this could be a dangerous situation if someone needs to call 911 for an emergency.

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