S California reels from magnitude 7.1 quake

LOS ANGELES (AP) – A quake with a magnitude of 7.1 jolted much of California, cracking buildings, setting fires, breaking roads and causing several injuries while seismologists warned that large aftershocks were expected to continue for days, if not weeks.

The Friday night quake — preceded by Thursday’s 6.4-magnitude temblor in the Mojave Desert — was the largest Southern California quake in at least 20 years and was followed by a series of large and small aftershocks, including a few above magnitude 5.0.

There is about a one-in-10 chance that another 7.0 quake could hit within the next week, said Lucy Jones, a seismologist at the California Institute of Technology and a former science adviser at the United States (US) Geological Survey.

The chance of a 5.0-magnitude quake “is approaching certainty,” she added. Aftershocks from the new main quake could occur for years, Jones said.

However, the quake was unlikely to affect fault lines outside of the area, she said, noting that the gigantic San Andreas Fault was far away. The quake struck at 8.19pm and was centred 18 kilometres from Ridgecrest in the same areas where the previous quake hit.

“These earthquakes are related,” Jones said, adding that the new quake probably ruptured along about 40 kilometres of fault line and was part of a continuing sequence.

Governor Gavin Newsom activated the state Office of Emergency Services operations centre “to its highest level” and announced he had requested that US President Donald Trump issue an emergency declaration so the state could receive federal aid.