Destinations

California hit by biggest earthquake in decades, braces for month of aftershocks

The governor of California has declared a state of emergency after the region was rocked by two massive earthquakes – the largest the region has seen in nearly 20 years.

On the Fourth of July, during Independence Day celebrations, California was hit by a magnitude 6.4 earthquake, which was reportedly centred around the Mojave Desert.

The next day, while recovery was underway from the earlier quake, the state was hit by the biggest earthquake it has recorded in nearly two decades – a magnitude 7.1, which struck at 8:00 PM local time.

Local correspondent CBS News reported the second, larger quake (which was 11 times stronger than the first) caused injuries, sparked fires and closed railways, but no deaths were reported.

Social media footage of the second quake showed buildings swaying, items crashing to the floor from supermarket shelves and cars shaking violently.

While emergency services in California continue to assess the damage caused to cracked buildings, broken roads, leaking gas and water lines, the governor of California, Gavin Newsom, declared a state of emergency.

Newsom wrote on Twitter that he was “Grateful for everyone working tirelessly on the recovery effort through the night and this morning.

“As Californians, we always have to be prepared for the next earthquake.”

Newsom has warned residents to be wary of new tremors, after the southern part of the state was hit by a second significant earthquake in as many days, as reported by The Guardian.

He’s also reportedly requested a presidential emergency declaration, unlocking federal funds for the support of community members affected by the two natural disasters.

California Institute of Technology seismologist Lucy Jones told USA Today thousands of magnitude 1 or more aftershocks have been detected in Searles Valley, Mojave Desert –highlighted by Friday’s magnitude 7.1 and Thursday’s 6.4 earthquakes.

Jones said on social media there was little chance that Searles Valley would be rocked by something that strong in coming days.

“The potential for increased weather disasters coming with climate change make the earthquake problem look small,” Jones said on Twitter.

While emergency services are still assessing the damage of the quakes, seismologists have said they expect more aftershocks to follow the two earthquakes.

The 7.1 magnitude earthquake is Southern California’s most powerful since another 7.1 quake reportedly struck near a US Marine Corps base in the Mojave Desert in 1999.

The last earthquake to cause major destruction in the region was in 1994 when a 6.7 magnitude quake in densely populated Northridge killed 57 people and caused billions of dollars in damage.

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