Strong aftershock jolts California as residents mop up after quake

 

RIDGECREST, Calif., July 5 (Reuters) - A strong aftershock shook Southern California early on Friday as residents were still assessing the damage from the July 4 quake, the strongest in the region in 25 years, which was felt by more than 20 million people.

The temblor, one of many aftershocks predicted by seismologists, struck the same desert region as Thursday's major earthquake with a magnitude of 5.4 about 11 miles (18 km) west of Searles Valley at 4:07 a.m. local time, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

There had already been more than 80 smaller aftershocks since Thursday's 6.4 magnitude quake near the city of Ridgecrest, which was felt from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, USGS seismologist Lucy Jones said.

"We should be expecting lots of aftershocks and some of them will be bigger than the 3s we've been having so far," Jones told reporters on Thursday. "I think the chance of having a magnitude 5 ... is probably greater than 50-50," she said.

Some residents spent much of their July 4 holiday cleaning up the mess left by the quake.

"I mopped up over 20 gallons (75 liters) of wine that fell over in addition to the beer, soda and the cooler that fell over. We have several thousand dollars worth of damage," said shopkeeper James Wilhorn.

Related: Southern California quake on July Fourth 

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RIDGECREST, CALIFORNIA - JULY 04: A local resident inspects a crack in the earth after a 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck the area on July 4, 2019 near Ridgecrest, California. The earthquake was the largest to strike Southern California in 20 years with the epicenter located in a remote area of the Mojave Desert. The temblor was felt by residents across much of Southern California. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
RIDGECREST, CALIFORNIA - JULY 04: People walk near cracks in the road after a 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck the area on July 4, 2019 near Ridgecrest, California. The earthquake was the largest to strike Southern California in 20 years with the epicenter located in a remote area of the Mojave Desert. The temblor was felt by residents across much of Southern California. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
RIDGECREST, CALIFORNIA - JULY 04: A crack stretches across the road after a 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck the area on July 4, 2019 near Ridgecrest, California. The earthquake was the largest to strike Southern California in 20 years with the epicenter located in a remote area of the Mojave Desert. The temblor was felt by residents across much of Southern California. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
TRONA, CALIFORNIA - JULY 04: Workers repair damaged utility lines after a 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck the area on July 4, 2019 in Trona, California. The earthquake was the largest to strike Southern California in 20 years with the epicenter located in a remote area of the Mojave Desert. The temblor was felt by residents across much of Southern California. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
TRONA, CALIFORNIA - JULY 04: Workers remove downed utility lines after a 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck the area on July 4, 2019 in Trona, California. The earthquake was the largest to strike Southern California in 20 years with the epicenter located in a remote area of the Mojave Desert. The temblor was felt by residents across much of Southern California. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
RIDGECREST, CALIFORNIA - JULY 04: A local resident photographs a fissure in the earth after a 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck the area on July 4, 2019 near Ridgecrest, California. The earthquake was the largest to strike Southern California in 20 years with the epicenter located in a remote area of the Mojave Desert. The temblor was felt by residents across much of Southern California. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Vehicles drive over a crack on Highway 178 south of Trona, after a 6.4-magnitude earthquake hit in Ridgecrest, California, on July 4, 2019. - Southern California was rocked by a 6.4-magnitude earthquake Thursday morning, the US Geological Survey said, with authorities warning that the temblor, the largest in two decades, might not be the day's last. (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
A damaged home is seen after a 6.4-magnitude earthquake hit in Ridgecrest, California, on July 4, 2019. - Southern California was rocked by a 6.4-magnitude earthquake Thursday morning, the US Geological Survey said, with authorities warning that the temblor, the largest in two decades, might not be the day's last. (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - A damaged home is seen after a 6.4-magnitude earthquake hit in Ridgecrest, California, on July 4, 2019. - Southern California was rocked by a 6.4-magnitude earthquake Thursday morning, the US Geological Survey said, with authorities warning that the temblor, the largest in two decades, might not be the day's last. (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
RIDGELINE, CA JULY 4: Charles Hawkins tries to move a dresser off of his bed hours after a 6.4 magnitude earthquake severely damaged his home July 4, 2019 near Ridgeline, California. (Photo by Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
RIDGELINE, CA JULY 4: A jack pylon pierces the living room floor of Charles Hawkins' mobile home that was severely damaged by a 6.4 magnitude earthquake July 4, 2019 near Ridgeline, California. (Photo by Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
RIDGELINE, CA JULY 4: Charles Hawkins is embraced by his mother Elizabeth outside his home that was severely damaged in a 6.4 magnitude earthquake July 4, 2019 near Rideline, California. (Photo by Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - A car drives past a crack in the road on Highway 178, south of Trona, after a 6.4-magnitude earthquake hit in Ridgecrest, California, on July 4, 2019. - Southern California was rocked by a 6.4-magnitude earthquake Thursday morning, the US Geological Survey said, with authorities warning that the temblor, the largest in two decades, might not be the day's last. (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
RIDGECREST, CALIFORNIA - JULY 04: Charred items sit in front of a home which caught fire following a 6.4 magnitude earthquake on July 4, 2019 in Ridgecrest, California. The earthquake was the largest to strike Southern California in 20 years with the epicenter located in a remote area of the Mojave Desert. The temblor was felt by residents across Southern California. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Seismologist Lucy Jones speaks at a media briefing at the Caltech Seismological Laboratory in Pasadena, California following the 6.4 Searles earthquake near Ridgecrest about 150 miles (241km) north of Los Angeles, July 4, 2019. - Southern California was rocked by a 6.4-magnitude earthquake Thursday morning, the US Geological Survey said, with authorities warning that the temblor, the largest in two decades, might not be the day's last. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP) (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
RIDGECREST, CA - JULY 04: A patient is evacuated from Ridgecrest Regional Hospital after city was hit by a 6.4 earthquake July 04, 2019 in Ridgecrest, California. (Photo by Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
RIDGECREST, CA - JULY 04: Firefighters place cots for patients being evacuated from Ridgecrest Regional Hospital after a 6.4 earthquake struck July 04, 2019 in Ridgecrest, California. (Photo by Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
A damaged motorhome is seen red-taped after an earthquake, Thursday, July 4, 2019, in Ridgecrest, Calif. The strongest earthquake in 20 years shook a large swath of Southern California and parts of Nevada on Thursday, rattling nerves on the July 4th holiday and causing injuries and damage in a town near the epicenter, followed by a swarm of ongoing aftershocks. The 6.4 magnitude quake struck at 10:33 a.m. in the Mojave Desert, about 150 miles (240 kilometers) northeast of Los Angeles, near the town of Ridgecrest, Calif. (AP Photo/Matt Hartman)
Earthquake damage inside the Daily Independent newspaper office seen after an earthquake in Ridgecrest, Calif., Thursday, July 4, 2019. The strongest earthquake in 20 years shook a large swath of Southern California and parts of Nevada on Thursday, rattling nerves on the July 4th holiday and causing injuries and damage in a town near the epicenter, followed by a swarm of ongoing aftershocks. The 6.4 magnitude quake struck at 10:33 a.m. in the Mojave Desert, about 150 miles (240 kilometers) northeast of Los Angeles, near the town of Ridgecrest, Calif. (Jessica Weston/ The Daily Independent via AP)
Earthquake damage inside the Daily Independent newspaper office seen after an earthquake in Ridgecrest, Calif., Thursday, July 4, 2019. The strongest earthquake in 20 years shook a large swath of Southern California and parts of Nevada on Thursday, rattling nerves on the July 4th holiday and causing injuries and damage in a town near the epicenter, followed by a swarm of ongoing aftershocks. The 6.4 magnitude quake struck at 10:33 a.m. in the Mojave Desert, about 150 miles (240 kilometers) northeast of Los Angeles, near the town of Ridgecrest, Calif. (Jessica Weston/ The Daily Independent via AP)
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Only a few injuries were reported, but two houses caught fire from broken gas pipes, officials said. Water gushed from zigzagged cracks in the pavement from busted water lines. Deep fissures snaked across the Mojave Desert, with passersby stopping to take selfies while standing in the rendered earth.

The quake hit the edge of Death Valley National Park about 113 miles northeast of Los Angeles at about 10:30 a.m. on Thursday. It was very shallow, only 6.7 miles (10.7 km) deep, amplifying its effect, and was felt in an area inhabited by 20 million people, the European quake agency EMSC said.

The Ridgecrest Regional Hospital, where 15 patients were evacuated earlier, appeared intact apart from some new cracks in the walls.

California Governor Gavin Newsom approved an emergency proclamation, and Ridgecrest Mayor Peggy Breeden said she had declared a state of emergency, a step that enables the town to receive help from outside agencies.

Breeden said she has asked residents to check on their neighbors in the high desert town.

"We're a close-knit community and everybody is working to take care of each other," she told Reuters by telephone.

The quake is the largest in Southern California since the 1994 magnitude 6.6 Northridge earthquake, USGS geophysicist Paul Caruso said. That quake, which was centered in a heavily populated area of Los Angeles, killed 57 people and caused billions of dollars of damage. 

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