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Moderate quake rocks Los Angeles area

A moderate earthquake jolted the Los Angeles region late yesterday, shattering glass, setting off alarms and fraying nerves. There were no reports of any major injuries or damage.

The magnitude-4.7 quake hit at 8:39 pm (0339 gmt), about 10 miles (16 kilometers) southwest of downtown Los Angeles and three miles (five kilometers) east of Los Angeles International Airport, according to a preliminary report by the US Geological Survey. The quake was followed minutes later by at least three smaller aftershocks, with the largest registering at magnitude-3.1.

The quake jiggled the greater Los Angeles region for about 10 to 15 seconds and was felt as far south as San Diego, said USGS seismologist Susan Hough.

"This was a serious jolt. It was probably felt within 100 miles," Hough said.

The shaking was most intense in the coastal communities south of LAX. Some residents said books and other items were knocked off the shelves. Television images showed a business that had its storefront window knocked out.

However, some people who live north of downtown Los Angeles either felt a light shake or nothing at all.

There were no reports of any damage at LAX. The Los Angeles Fire Department received plenty of calls, but none to report any major injuries, said spokesman Brian Humphrey.

Hough said there will likely be more aftershocks in the "threes, maybe a four," but only a five percent chance of a larger quake.

The quake, which hit 8.4 miles (13.5 kilometers) below the surface, appears consistent with movement on the Newport-Inglewood fault, said USGS geophysicist Ken Hudnut.

The Newport-Inglewood fault was responsible for the magnitude-6.4 Long Beach earthquake in 1933 that caused 120 deaths and more than USUS$50 million in property damage.

The last damaging earthquake in Southern California was the 1994 magnitude-6.7 Northridge quake that toppled bridges and buildings.

Since Northridge, the region has been in a relative seismic lull. In the past year, however, activity has picked up.

Last summer, a 5.4-magnitude quake centered in Chino Hills, east of Los Angeles, rattled windows and made buildings sway, but did not cause major damage. It was the strongest quake to hit since Northridge.


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