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Calif. quake drill finds big plan gaps

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 27 (UPI) -- California needs more emergency workers, better sources of water and new ways of restoring electricity to cope with a major earthquake, officials say.

In analyzing the results of the biggest-ever Los Angeles-area preparedness drill held last month, state and city officials found significant gaps in their earlier plans, prompting a major re-evaluation of how southern California would fare in a magnitude 7.8 earthquake, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.

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Experts predict 1,600 fires would be ignited, damaging an estimated 200 million square feet of property and killing 900 people, half of the expected 1,800 total earthquake deaths. More local emergency workers would be needed than previously thought because firefighters from other communities would be busy with their own emergencies, while personnel from Northern California would be blocked by damaged roads, the Times said.

Water supply issues would also loom large, officials project, with many fires growing out of control as water stopped coming out of firefighters' hoses. Planners say they need to identify alternative water sources, such as backyard swimming pools or storm drains collecting runoff from broken pipes, the newspaper reported.

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