Top Stories

State of emergency in quake-hit California

NATURE'S FURY: A damaged highway just outside Napa Valley. PHOTO: AFP


    Aug 26, 2014

    State of emergency in quake-hit California


    A 6.0-MAGNITUDE earthquake rocked California's scenic Napa Valley wine country on Sunday, the strongest to hit the region in a quarter of a century, seriously injuring three and jolting thousands from their sleep.

    No deaths were reported, but the authorities said a child was in critical condition after being crushed by a fireplace and that some 130 people sought minor medical care.

    Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in the wake of the quake, which sparked fires, burst water mains, caused gas leaks and even cracked roads.

    The United States Geological Survey (USGS) said the temblor was the most powerful to hit the San Francisco Bay area since the 1989 6.9-magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake.

    Despite the widespread damage, scientists said California was fortunate to escape greater devastation from the earthquake, which exposed gaps in the state's preparedness. The historic 1906 San Francisco earthquake was about 500 times larger than Sunday's temblor.

    Many residents of Napa and the surrounding area, home to some of California's most celebrated wineries, were roused from sleep in a state of panic when the ground started shaking.

    Among them was David Gadlin, manager of Lucero Olive Oil shop in downtown Napa, who raced to the store to find the floor coated with olive oil, vinegar and shattered glass.

    "It could have been a lot worse if it happened during the day, when customers and workers were inside," he said. "We will get through this."

    Napa city officials said three people suffered serious injuries, including a child who had to be airlifted to a hospital for neurological care.

    The authorities flagged 33 buildings, including a seniors' centre, as too damaged for occupancy, and portions of the city's downtown were cordoned off with yellow tape.

    Fire destroyed four mobile homes and damaged two others at a trailer park in the area, while crews extinguished blazes in two other residential neighbourhoods.

    The earthquake was felt as far away as San Francisco, as far east as Sacramento and as far south as Santa Cruz.

    USGS expert Jessica Turner told KCBS radio that aftershocks of up to 5.0 are likely in the next week.

    The USGS estimated damage could be up to US$1 billion (S$1.24 billion).

    AFP, NYT