LUDLOW, Calif. (Oct. 16, 1999) -- A powerful magnitude 7.0 earthquake jolted millions of people in the southwestern United States out of their beds
early Saturday morning.
The quake derailed a passenger train, knocked out power to tens of thousands of people, and caused rockslides, broken water mains and natural gas line leaks. At least one overpass was closed because of damage. Some structural damage was reported at the U.S. Marine Corps base at Twentynine Palms.
Only a handful of minor injuries were reported.
Power was expected to be restored to affected areas by late Saturday.
The earthquake occurred just two days after the U.S. Geological Survey released a report saying there is a 70 percent chance of a major earthquake in the San Francisco Bay area in the next 30 years.
The quake also came one day before the 10th anniversary of the 7.1 magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake in northern California.
A counseling and research organization in California warned that people who experienced psychological difficulties as a result of past earthquakes may experience some of the past psychological pain and trauma again as a result of Saturday's shaker.
"Fortunately, the symptoms are not usually as intense and are of a shorter duration," said Dr. Robert R. Butterworth, president of International Trauma Association of Los Angeles.
The temblor occurred at 2:46 a.m. PDT. The epicenter was located in a remote, sparsely populated part of the Mojave Desert, approximately 47 miles east-southeast of Barstow and 32 miles north of the desert community of Joshua Tree, according to seismologists with the California Institute of Technology. It was felt as far away as Tucson, Ariz., Las Vegas, Nev., and Tijuana, Mexico.
"This is an earthquake larger than the Northridge quake," said seismologist Lucy Jones of the U.S. Geological Survey, referring to the 1994 magnitude 6.7 quake which killed 67 people and caused $20 billion in damages in the Los Angeles area.
She said damage from Saturday's temblor, which officials called the Hector Mine quake because it occurred near an old mining town with the same name, was limited due to the fact the area is sparsely populated.
"The good news is that not many people live there," Jones said.
A magnitude 7 quake is capable of causing widespread heavy damage.
Dozens of aftershocks were reported, the largest being a magnitude 5.8 on the Richter scale, which occurred at 5:57 a.m.
Outside Ludlow, 21 cars of the Southwest Chief Amtrak passenger train derailed. The cars remained upright. The train, en route from Chicago to Los Angeles, was carrying 155 passengers when it derailed about 125 miles northeast of Los Angeles. The passengers were placed on buses to continue their trip.
In Ludlow itself, mobile homes were knocked off their pilings and dishes
and other items were knocked off shelves.
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