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California, Arizona hit by unusual swarm of small-to-midsize quakes

By Agence France-Presse
Sunday, August 26, 2012 20:28 EDT
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Santa Ana earthquake 1933 via Flickr
 
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LOS ANGELES — A series of earthquakes measuring up to 5.4 rattled southern California, Arizona and the Mexican border region Sunday, seismologists said, although no damage or injuries were immediately reported.

The small- and medium-level quakes were felt from San Diego and Orange County in California east into Arizona, and swamped the temblor-measuring resources of the US Geological Survey (USGS).

The quakes began around 12:16 pm (2016 GMT) with a magnitude 4 temblor 16 miles (26 km) north of El Centro, California, and lasted more than two hours. The biggest shakes included a magnitude 5.4 at 13:57, with the same epicenter.

The so-called “seismic swarm” is a relatively rare occurrence.

“We haven’t seen one of these since the 1970s, and there was another one back in the 1930s,” said USGS seismologist Lucy Jones.

“Our system is choking on so many earthquakes.”

Buildings were evacuated in Brawley, 115 miles east-northeast of San Diego. “It’s pretty bad, we had to evacuate the hotel just for safety,” said Rowena Rapoza, office manager at the Best Western Hotel there.

Aftermath of an earthquake in Santa Ana in 1933, courtesy of Orange County Archives via Flickr

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
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