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Aftershocks rattle Southern California after strong quake

By Nicholas Sakelaris
Aftershocks rattle Southern California after strong quake
A magnitude-5.4 aftershock rattled Southern California early Friday, the strongest yet after a strong quake Thursday. Image courtesy U.S. Geological Survey 

July 5 (UPI) -- A magnitude-5.4 earthquake hit near Ridgecrest, Calif., early Friday, one of the strongest aftershocks yet after the magnitude-6.4 quake hit Thursday.

Seismologists warn an even bigger earthquake could be looming as the area recovers from injuries, fires and damaged homes. The injuries were mostly cuts and bruises.

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"There is about a 1-in-20 chance that this location will be having an even bigger earthquake within the next few days," California Institute of Technology seismologist Lucy Jones said.

In Ridgecrest, drivers rushed to gas stations and waited in long lines to fill up. Electricity was out in several areas and traffic lights weren't working.

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There have been hundreds of aftershocks since the initial quake in the Mojave Desert, about 120 miles north of Los Angeles. One of the latest earthquake occurred five miles from Ridgecrest and jolted people out of their sleep as far away as Las Vegas.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency. President Donald Trump tweeted, "Been fully briefed on earthquake in Southern California. All seems to be very much under control."

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Kern County Fire Chief David Witt said multiple injuries were reported from the initial quake. A local hospital was damaged and 15 patients had to be evacuated.

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The shaking from the initial quake was felt as far away as Las Vegas.

"Everything that was on the shelves came crashing down," store employee Kaitlin Alexander said. "The wine, all I heard was 'crsss.' And it just fell."

The last major quake to hit Southern California was the 6.7-magnitude Northridge earthquake in 1994 that killed 72 people and caused $20 billion in damage.

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The new flurry of earthquakes comes after five years of relatively no major seismic activity. The last 6.0-magnitude temblor in California hit five years ago.

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