Huge quake shakes California, damage unclear

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The strongest earthquake to hit southern California in 20-years has struck with a magnitude of 7.1 at a depth of just 0.9km, with the epicentre near the city of Ridgecrest, about 220km north-east of Los Angeles.

A 6.4-magnitude quake hit the same region just 48-hours before.

According to Kern County officials, there are roughly 1,800 people without power following the earthquake, and there are reports of a ‘significant’ number of fires due to gas leaks.

In some areas power supplies have been lost and communications are down – but the full scale of the situation is not yet clear.

“The situation awareness is sketchy because the powers out and there’s not a lot of lighting, so we know that as the day breaks we will be able to get a better assessment of the total amount of damage,” Mark Ghillarducci, director of the California Office of Emergency Services said.

“Throughout the night we are working to move assets and resources in place or into staging areas,” he added.

Kern County Fire Department said it is responding to calls for service and ordering additional resources. Kern County is activating the emergency operations centre.

The last time southern California saw a major quake was in 1999, when a magnitude 7.1 quake jolted the state in the Hector Mines area of the Mojave Desert.

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