Monday 23 September 2019

Earthquakes a ‘wake-up call,’ warns California governor

Gavin Newsom said governments must strengthen alert systems and building codes, and residents should make sure they know how to protect themselves.

California Governor Gavin Newsom (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)
California Governor Gavin Newsom (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)

By Associated Press Reporters

The two major earthquakes that hit Southern California should alert people across the US to the need to be prepared for natural disasters, the state’s governor has said.

Gavin Newsom said that governments must strengthen alert systems and building codes, and residents should make sure they know how to protect themselves during an earthquake.

“It is a wake-up call for the rest of the state and other parts of the nation, frankly,” Mr Newsom said at a news conference to update the public on the state’s efforts to help the region hit by earthquakes on Thursday and Friday.

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Gavin Newsom, right, tours earthquake damage inside a shop in Ridgecrest (Governor’s OES via AP)

Friday’s earthquake was the largest one to hit Southern California in nearly 20 years.

Officials voiced concerns about the possibility of major aftershocks in the days and months to come.

No fatalities or major injuries were reported after the 7.1-magnitude quake, which jolted an area from Sacramento to Mexico and prompted the evacuation of the navy’s largest single landholding, Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in the Mojave Desert.

The quake struck at 8.19pm on Friday and was centred 18km (11 miles) from Ridgecrest, the same area of the desert where a 6.4-magnitude tremor hit on Thursday.

It left behind cracked and burning buildings, broken roads, obstructed railroad tracks and leaking water and gas lines.

The light damage was largely due to the remoteness of the area where the earthquake occurred, but Mr Newsom cautioned that after touring Ridgecrest “it’s deceiving, earthquake damage. You don’t notice it at first”.

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A crack on a road near Ridgecrest caused by the earthquake (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)

Mr Newsom estimated more than $100 million in economic damage and said President Donald Trump had called him to offer federal support in the rebuilding effort.

“He’s committed in the long haul, the long run, to help support the rebuilding efforts,” Mr Newsom said of Mr Trump.

Some 28,000 people live in the Ridgecrest area, which is sandwiched between more populated areas of Southern California and Las Vegas’s Clark County.

Seismologists warned that the area could see up to 30,000 aftershocks over the next six months.

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