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Aftershocks Rattle SoCal, But Damage, Economic Impact Minimal

Aftershocks Rattle SoCal, But Damage, Economic Impact Minimal

Southern California residents were rattled again Friday morning as a major aftershock hit the region a day after the strongest earthquake in 20 years on Thursday.

What Happened

The 5.4-magnitude aftershock jolted residents out of bed just after 4 a.m. Pacific time near the high desert town of Ridgecrest, northeast of Los Angeles, in one of hundreds of aftershocks to hit the area since Thursday’s larger quake.

The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services on Twitter called it “a swarm of earthquakes near Ridgecrest.”

No deaths were reported, though Ridgecrest Mayor Peggy Breeden said there were several fires and broken gas lines in the town of about 28,000.

Kern County Fire Chief David Witt said in a news conference Friday that injuries and damages were both minor.

“With the magnitude, we are very grateful that there was such a limited amount of injuries and damage,” Witt said. “There’s minor to moderate damage to various structures out in Ridgecrest.”

What It Means 

PG&E Corporation (NYSE: PCG)’s Pacific Gas and Electric said after the first quake Thursday that it had no reports of damage to its facilities and wasn’t expecting any gas or electric outages in relation to the earthquake.

The bankrupt utility is already reeling from liabilities of about $30 billion from wildfires in the last two years and is seeking help from the state in the form of new bonds to try to pay claims to victims.

What's Next

While it didn’t appear Thursday’s quake and Friday’s aftershock would have major economic ripples or otherwise affect markets, California and federal officials have warned the state to brace for more potential quakes. 

The U.S. Geological Survey said the chance of another quake magnitude 5 or higher somewhere in the state in the next week is about 80%. There’s a 20% chance of one magnitude 6 or larger.

The 6.4-magnitude Fourth of July earthquake, estimated to have been felt by 15 million people, was the largest in Southern California in two decades and was felt 150 miles away in Los Angeles — though LA Mayor Eric Garcetti said there was “no significant damage” there.

It also could reportedly be felt in Las Vegas, Nevada to the east, and in Mexico, far south of the epicenter. It was the largest Southern California quake since a magnitude 7.1 in the Mojave Desert in 1999.

The quakes ended a long period of quiet in California, which hasn’t had an earthquake above 6 in magnitude in nearly five years. Federal geological survey officials told The Washington Post that if Thursday’s earthquake had hit a more populated area, such as in Los Angeles or San Francisco, it could have caused catastrophic damage and deaths.

Related Links:

What's Next For PG&E? Bondholders Look To Forge New Path For The Company

Significant Earthquake Strikes Near Panama Canal

Posted-In: California Earthquakes natural disasters The Washington Post UtilitiesNews Best of Benzinga


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