Earthquake rattles SoCal

A moderate earthquake jolted Southern California on Wednesday, rattling buildings in downtown Los Angeles, toppling wine bottles at desert resorts and briefly halting rides at Disneyland.

LOS ANGELES — A moderate earthquake jolted Southern California on Wednesday, rattling buildings in downtown Los Angeles, toppling wine bottles at desert resorts and briefly halting rides at Disneyland.

There were no reports of immediate injuries or major damage, although residents across a wide swath of Southern California were spooked by the force of the magnitude-5.4 quake.

It struck at 4:53 p.m. local time and was centred 28 miles (45 kilometres) south of Palm Springs, or about 130 miles (210 kilometres) east of Los Angeles, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

Laura Anderson, a manager at The Palms at Indian Head Hotel, said she ran outside when the shaking started and was surprised to learn the temblor’s magnitude wasn’t higher.

The quake was initially reported as a magnitude-5.9 but later downgraded to 5.4. Sheriff’s departments in Los Angeles, Riverside, Orange and San Diego counties have no immediate reports of major damage or injuries.

Police Lt. John Booth said there were no reports of serious damage or injuries in Palm Springs, a desert city of about 43,000, but the phone was ringing off the hook and many residents were shaken up.

The quake is related to a powerful Easter Day temblor that hit an isolated area near the U.S.-Mexico border, but it is not an aftershock. Seismologist Kate Hutton of the California Institute of Technology said strain from the April quake transferred up to a different fault zone and triggered the quake.

Even though the quake did not do significant damage, it sure put a scare into millions of people in Southern California.

Suzi Brown, a spokeswoman at Disneyland, said all rides were being inspected before guests would be allowed back on after the earthquake, in line with resort policy after any seismic activity, she said.

“The rides come back on as they’re inspected, so some within a matter of minutes, some a little longer depending on the attraction,” she said.

Caltech seismic analyst Anthony Guarino said preliminary information indicates that the quake was on the San Jacinto fault, one of two that was stressed by the 7.2-magnitude quake near the U.S.-Mexico border on Easter.

Tony Wann, 37, a bartender at Carlee’s Place in downtown Borrego Springs, said the quake knocked a few glasses off shelves but none shattered and there was no apparent damage — other than rattled nerves.

Kim Daniel, director of sales and marketing at the Borrego Springs Resort and Spa just 13 miles from the epicenter, said the earthquake was the strongest that she’s felt in her 13 years in Southern California. The temblor began with a strong shaking that lasted about 10 seconds, she said.

She said the resort appears to have suffered no structural damage. There were few guests because summer is the low tourist season in the desert.

At least a dozen aftershocks have been recorded, with the largest measuring magnitude-3.6. Guarino said such seismic activity is not completely surprising given the quake on Easter.

“We knew that the stress increased on both of those faults. You can’t predict earthquakes, but the statistics said there would be an increased chance of this happening,” he said.

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