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One death reported in Baja quake [updated]

April 4, 2010 |  8:14 pm
After a 7.2 earthquake struck Mexicali, a woman goes into labor at a damaged hospital in the Mexicali area.At least one man died and several homes burned in northern Mexico after the magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck near the California-Mexico border Sunday.

A man was killed when his home collapsed just outside Mexicali, a civil protection chief told the Associated Press. A parking garage also collapsed in the border town of 653,000. 

[Updated 11:06 - Baja California state Civil Protection Director Alfredo Escobedo said a second man was killed when he panicked as the ground shook, ran into the street and was struck by a car. At least 100 people were injured, most of them struck by falling objects. At least 20 aftershocks were felt in the city, he said: “It has not stopped trembling in Mexicali.” ]

Oscar Silas, a firefighter at a station 10 miles west of Mexicali, said that at least six homes were destroyed by fires caused by the quake. The blazes started when household propane tanks were damaged and electricity lines were severed, he said. 

He said the fire department had also received reports that several houses near the volcano Cerro Prieto -- about 19 miles from the quake’s epicenter -- sank into the ground as water rose up around them.

The quake knocked out power and broke water lines, making it difficult to respond to emergencies and assess the damage, Silas said.

“We don’t have any electricity, so communication…is very bad,” he said.

Minor damage was reported in some Southern California locales. Windows shattered at the San Diego Sports Arena. In El Centro, authorities reported some damage at a local hospital, mobile homes shaken off their foundations and chimneys collapsed.

The quake probably occurred on the Laguna Salada fault, which is about 40 to 50 miles long and straddles the California-Mexico border, seismologists said.

The Laguna Salada fault zone lies underneath desert, to the south of the San Andreas fault, seismologists said, roughly at the midpoint of the California-Baja California border. 

“This is a pretty good-sized earthquake on the tectonic boundaries between the Pacific and North American plates,” said Frank Vernon, a research seismologist at UC San Diego. The earthquake was centered 37 miles south of Mexicali.

Both Vernon and Caltech seismologist Lucy Jones said geologists won’t make a final determination about which fault ruptured until scientists can inspect the earthquake zone.

The last time a quake caused a surface rupture on the Laguna Salada fault was in 1892, when a magnitude 7 temblor hit. But the region where Sunday’s quake occurred has been seismically active for the past year, and there were several foreshocks that occurred, beginning last Wednesday, with magnitudes between 3 and 4, Jones said.

“This area is a very active area. There have been swarms at many times,” Jones said.

The earthquake hit at 3:40 p.m., 37 miles south of Mexicali and about 220 miles southeast of Los Angeles. Several major aftershocks have already hit the area and triggered a magnitude 3 earthquake six miles off the coast of Malibu. Seismologists initially said the Malibu quake was magnitude 4.1 and later revised it to 3.0.

-- Alan Zarembo, Rong-Gong Lin II and Ruben Vives in Los Angeles; Richard Winton in Pasadena; and Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: A woman goes into labor at a damaged hospital in the Mexicali area. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

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Comments (9)

I think that we need to stop to do injuries to world, all that the human take out of the land is a big consecuence and it is the nature of the world. It needs a brake.

Thank you for actually reporting on the epicenter of the earthquake, Mexicali, Mexico.

I have a question and possible story idea for you guys. Why did it take so long for all the major news outlets to report on the earthquake? Most of us got the news (including the magnitude and location) within a minute.

It's crazy the way the news is being reported these days. The media focuses so much on Tiger Woods and Sandra Bullock's personal life, yet when something as important as an earthquake happens, not a peep from anyone. I relied more on my facebook wall for information than from all the television and online newsfeeds combined.

The last earthquake we had, a few of the local news stations actually spent almost an hour reading off what people said on their twitter and facebook pages (i.e. "Joe Smoe reported on twitter that he felt it but there was no damage to his house").

Maybe the news media should really look at what Jon Stewart complained about a few years ago and start bringing the seriousness back to news. Leave the entertainment stuff to Inside Edition and Entertainment Tonight and bring back the news we can use. Just sayin'...

I was in Mexicali visiting family... it was a shock, the moving and rumbling seemed to be endless, we were holding to each other and holding tight to the fence, cars and walls were shaking pretty hard... neighbors begin getting out of their houses to be safe, some of them in shock! it was pretty scary... they don't have electricity or water to this hour.

Like all self adjusting systems, mother earth is making corrections for all that's inflicted upon her.

I live in Avondale, Arizona and around 3:45pm I felt the earth underneath me move and I felt the tremors for a whole minute. I lived in Japan for 3 years and I felt tremors on a daily basis and I recognized that it was a tremor from an earth quake.

Joan, are you serious?

Earthquakes are sad, science explains it's a part of life. Someday science may solve the mother nature puzzle. In Bakersfield where I live we had a Earthquake in the 1950's so person never knows.

One more reason to fear God, take him serious by devoting as much time to him as possible. Stretch your faith, take bigger steps of faith. Anna spent 24/7 with God in the New Testament. You'll be more blessed. We're supposed to be prepared to leave this world at any time. No man knows his death time. "It's appointed once for a man to die and then the judgment." Therefore, pray without ceasing and watch Jesus do a great thing in your life for others.


About L.A. Now
L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ news blog for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and Santa Monica.
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