The strongest earthquake to hit Southern California in 20 years left scattered damage Thursday morning and was felt from Las Vegas to Orange County, the US Geological Survey reported.
The quake, with an early magnitude of 6.4, was centered near Ridgecrest, a community west of the Mojave Desert and about 150 miles north of Los Angeles.
Reports of scattered damage, including rock slides and fires, rolled in by midday.
At least four large aftershocks, from 3.5 to 4.7 magnitude, and dozens smaller were recorded, officials said.
In Los Angeles, the temblor was felt as a long, rolling quake, and buildings rocked back and forth for at least several seconds.
Before Thursday, the largest quake in the area was in 1999 near Barstow, said seismologist Lucy Jones of the USGS.
Diane Ruggiero, general manager of the Hampton Inn and Suites Ridgecrest in Ridgecrest, told CNN’s Paul Vercammen that the hotel has significant damage.
“The chandeliers are still swinging,” she said five minutes after the quake hit at 10:33 a.m. PT. “The floor rippled.”
Los Angeles International Airport said no damage was reported on runways. “Operations remain normal,” it tweeted.
“We have no reports of damage to any FAA facilities or operational effects from the quake at this time,” FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said.
Some damage reported
Trona, an unincorporated community, “sustained varying degrees of damage” but no injuries have been reported, according to San Bernadino County Fire’s verified Twitter account.
The department reported “minor cracks (in buildings); broken water mains; power lines down; rock slides on certain roads” in northwestern communities in the county.
Just north of Los Angeles, Kern County Fire is responding to more than 20 incidents relating to the earthquake and aftershocks including fires and medical emergencies, according to a tweet on its verified account.
Highway 178 has a 4-inch crack, said San Bernardino County Fire spokesman Jeremy Kern. All highways in San Bernardino County remain open. The area’s high tension power lines are all intact.
U.S. Geological Survey Lucy Jones seismologist told reporters, “The earthquake was near China Lake and Ridgecrest. It’s a sparsely inhabited area, so the number of people who would have received damage is much lower.”
She said there is a 1 in 20 chance that a bigger earthquake will hit within the next few days. “It’s certain that this area is going to be shaking a lot today and some of those aftershocks will probably exceed magnitude 5.”
Jones said the quake was preceded by magnitude 4.2 temblor about 30 minutes before, which she called a foreshock.
Felt in Las Vegas
The National Weather Service tweeted that the earthquake was felt in Las Vegas, adding, “so far no significant damage reports.”
A tsunami is not expected, according to the National Tsunami Warning Center.
There have been at least 58 aftershocks 2.5 or stronger, according to the USGS.
He was called into work at the agency’s office in Golden, Colorado. “We’re getting calls off the hook,” research geophysicist William Yeck said.
Reactions on social media
A woman on Twitter shared a video from “My dads liquor store in Ridgecrest (11 miles from the earthquake)
Filmmaker Ava DuVernay tweeted, “Been living in Los Angeles all my life. That was the longest earthquake I’ve ever experienced. Not jerky. Smooth and rolling. But it was loooong. It was so long I thought for the first time ever “Is this the big one?” Damn. Respect Mother Nature. She’s the boss.”
In Lancaster, one Twitter user reported people fleeing a movie theater.
“Felt like we were on a turntable,” user Rudio87 wrote.
By Jay Croft and Braden Goyette, CNN