A 6.4 magnitude earthquake has hit Southern California, the largest temblor to hit the region in decades with rumblings felt in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
The most powerful earthquake to strike southern California in decades has rattled the region with buildings rocking back and forth in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, Nevada.
The quake — which measured a 6.4 magnitude on the Richter scale — struck near the town of Ridgecrest, California, about 240 kilometres northeast of Los Angeles. It was very shallow — about 10.7km — which would have amplified its effect, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS).
There have been reports of damaged buildings, power lines down, broken water mains, rock slides and fires in some areas. One major highway sustained a four inch crack in San Bernardino County, according to local fire department spokesman Jeremy Kern.
It was not immediately clear whether anyone was injured in the quake, which hit just after 10.30am Thursday, local time.
The quake was the largest in Southern California since the 7.1 Hector Mine quake struck the Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Base and killed dozens of people in 1994.
A resident of Trona, south of Ridgecrest, said the earthquake rattled her home.
“We were just panicked trying to get out of the house because everything was just falling out of the cabinets, off the shelves, off the walls, pictures ... they were flying like missiles off the shelves,” April Rodriguez told CNN.
Mark Leach, an engineer who lives in LA, was in his garage about to drive to a July 4 barbecue in Los Angeles when the shaking started. He told the LA Times that it “felt like it went on for 30 seconds”.
“About halfway through it I dashed out into the road completely freaking out,” he said. “You can see some cracking in the seams of the drywall and stuff was knocked off the shelves — books and CDs and stuff.”
Ridgecrest Mayor Peggy Breeden said authorities were in the process of assessing the town’s regional hospital which was reportedly experiencing problems.
“It’s a little crazy here right now,” she said before quickly ending a phone call to local media.
Ms Breeden later told MSNBC: “We are used to earthquakes but we’re not used to this significance”.