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Kim Johnson Flodin/AP
People wait outside in downtown Los Angeles after evacuating following an earthquake
Tuesday, July 29,
2008. (AP)

Earthquake Hits Los Angeles Area

July 29, 2008 04:35 PM
by Anne Szustek

A 5.4 magnitude earthquake rocked southern California just before the lunch hour yesterday. No major damage or injuries were reported.

30-Second Summary

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The quake's epicenter was near Chino Hills, a suburb incorporated in 1991 where most residences had been constructed over the past 20 years.

Maria Ruiz, a waitress at local restaurant Crazy Coyote Mexican Grill, told the Los Angeles Times that when the earthquake hit, 11:42 a.m. PDT, she "just kind of froze." Cups and plates in the kitchen rattled and picture frames on the wall shook. But by 12:15 p.m., it was back to business as usual and she was taking calls from customers.

Some retail businesses had to close and restock shelves upset by the quake. At the Costco in Anaheim Hills in northern Orange County, ceiling tiles fell and a display of television sets crashed to the ground. A grocery store was closed for the remainder of the day so it could clean up spilled inventory.

All rides at Disneyland in nearby Anaheim were evacuated and shut down, reported KABC, Los Angeles’s ABC affiliate. Cell phone service was knocked out in Chino Hills and a fire broke out at a Southern California Edison electric substation in La Habra, located about 12 miles southwest of the epicenter, causing some power cuts in the area.

Early news reports listed the earthquake’s magnitude at 5.8, but that number was later lowered to 5.4.  Areas as far-flung as San Diego, Palm Springs and Las Vegas felt the tremors. There were several aftershocks, the largest of which had a magnitude of 3.8.

Southern California has been hit by many earthquakes of varying magnitude in the past. Most recently, a 6.7 magnitude hit near suburban Northridge in January 1994, incurring $12.5 billion in damages and killing 72 people.

During the 14 years that have since passed, scientists have made inroads in the field of earthquake prediction, including detecting atmospheric changes and inserting sensors into bedrock in quake-prone areas.

Seismologists predicted earlier this year with a 99.7 percent degree of certainty that a major earthquake will hit Southern California within the next 30 years. Residents and government officials viewed this relatively minor quake as a wake-up call to ramp up preparedness efforts. Later this year, emergency teams and scientists are to hold what is to be the country's largest earthquake drill, based on the potential effects of a 7.8-magnitude quake.

See AP coverage

Headline Links: Angelenos pick up pieces after quake

Video: Footage of Los Angeles earthquake, damage

Background: Earthquakes in Southern California

Reference: Earthquakes, protecting your home

Related Topics: New methods to monitor seismic activity

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