Shocked newsreaders react live on air as the earthquake hits

A 7.1 magnitude earthquake has rattled parts of Southern California, the biggest tremor to strike in 20 years.

It struck at the shallow depth of 0.9km (0.6 miles) and its epicentre was near the city of Ridgecrest, about 240km north-east of Los Angeles.

Emergency officials say the damage is not as bad as they initially feared, with power restored to most who had lost it and food stores trading again.

All of the roads that were damaged by the quake have also now been reopened, they say, but add that crews are still assessing the aftermath.

It’s thought about 3,000 people in Ridgecrest and the surrounding area were left without power.

California Governor Gavin Newsom offered his “heartfelt support” to all those affected, and requested a Presidential Emergency Declaration and federal aid to help.

He later added that there were a number of “minor to moderate level” injuries, and said there were “no reports of any fatalities, so I think we’re very lucky there”.

Aftermath of a rockslide caused by the earthquake in Kern County, California, U.S., July 5, 2019,REUTERS; A landslide after the quake shut a road near Ridgecrest, which has since been reopened

Seismologist Dr Lucy Jones said the quakes could continue. “This is an earthquake sequence,” she said at a press conference. “It will be ongoing.”

“Every earthquake makes another earthquake more likely,” she added, saying there was a 10% chance of a similar or even larger quake following in the next week.

However, Dr Jones told the BBC that it was not likely the quake would trigger shocks on other fault lines.

The earthquake was felt as far away as Las Vegas in the neighbouring state of Nevada and over the border in Mexico.

What happened afterwards?

Fires broke out and emergency services were dispatched across the state to deal with calls after the quake.

“We’ve got fires, we’ve got gas leaks, we’ve got injuries, we’ve got people without power,” Ridgecrest Mayor Peggy Breeden told Reuters news agency. “We’re dealing with it as best we can.”

Firefighters battle an electrical fire in a mobile home park in Ridgecrest, California,Image copyrightAFP
Image captionThis fire broke out in a mobile home park on Saturday
Broken bottles cover the floor of a liquor store in Ridgecrest, California, on July 6AFP: Shop owners were left with a great deal of cleaning to do

The San Bernardino County Fire Department said reports suggested “damage is more significant than yesterday’s quake”, referring to Thursday’s earthquake, and said they were tackling blazes and gas leaks.

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