Damage and injuries reported after 7.1 magnitude earthquake hits southern California

  • Video report by ITV News Reporter Marc Mallett

An earthquake with a magnitude as large as 7.1 has jolted much of California and caused several injuries, in the biggest tremor to strike the region in at least 20 years.

The quake - preceded by Thursday’s 6.4-magnitude temblor in the Mojave Desert - was followed by a series of large and small aftershocks.

It hit at 8.19pm local time on Friday and was approximately 11 miles from Ridgecrest in the same area where the previous quake hit.

But it was felt as far north as Sacramento, as far east as Las Vegas and as far south as Mexico.

Early magnitude estimates from the US Geological Survey wavered between 6.9 and 7.1.

The area in and around Ridgecrest, already trying to recover from the previous temblor, took the brunt of damage.

Megan Person, director of communications for the Kern County Fire Department, said there were reports of multiple injuries and multiple fires, but did not give further details.

The county opened an emergency shelter.

A fire breaks out behind the Casa Corona restaurant following an earthquake in Ridgecrest Credit: Jessica Weston/The Daily Independent via AP

Meanwhile, a rockslide closed State Route 178 in Kern River Canyon, where photos from witnesses also showed that a stretch of roadway had sunk.

San Bernardino County firefighters reported cracked buildings and one minor injury.

In central Los Angeles, 150 miles away, offices in skyscrapers rolled and rocked for at least 30 seconds.

Andrew Lippman, who lives in suburban South Pasadena, was sitting outside and reading the paper when Friday’s quake hit.

"It just started getting stronger and stronger, and I looked into my house and the lamp started to sway. I could see power lines swaying," he said.

The earthquake comes a day after another large earthquake in the region. Credit: AP

Governor Gavin Newsom activated the state Office of Emergency Services operations centre "to its highest level".

"The state is coordinating mutual aid to local first responders," he said.

Firefighters around southern California were mobilised to check for damage.

In LA, the quake rattled Dodger Stadium in the fourth inning of the team’s game against the San Diego Padres.

The quake happened when Dodgers second baseman Enrique Hernandez was batting. It did not appear to affect him or Padres pitcher Eric Lauer.

Six Flags Magic Mountain in Santa Clarita said in a tweet that it had stopped running rides in the earthquake’s wake.

"The safety of our guests and employees is our top priority and as a precautionary measure, we are conducting extensive visual, structural, and operational safety checks on all of the rides before re-opening," the park said.

Disneyland had evacuated rides as the park conducted safety checks, the Hollywood Reporter wrote. The park’s mobile app had marked all rides as "temporarily closed" on Friday night.

The quake came as communities in the Mojave Desert tallied damage and made emergency repairs to cracked roads and broken pipes from the earlier quake.

Hours earlier, seismologists had said that quake had been followed by more than 1,700 aftershocks and that they might continue for years.