California state officials are holding large scale emergency drills on Thursday to prepare 9.3 million citizens for an ‘imminent’ magnitude 7 or greater earthquake.
Seismologists believe California is well overdue a mega-earthquake along the fault line zone in the Bay Area of Southern California. Experts have warned that the chance of a deadly earthquake striking the area within the next few years is 72%.
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Dailystar.co.uk reports: Almost three decades ago, San Francisco’s Bay Area was devastated by a magnitude 6.9 earthquake that killed 67 and caused more than (£3.7billion) $5billion in damages.
Now a freak spate of deadly earthquakes that wreaked havoc in several regions throughout the Pacific has sparked fears California could be next.
In the past 30 days alone, California has been struck by 671 earthquakes, according to Earthquake Track.
The most powerful quake, measuring 5.7 magnitude, struck Ferndale in southern California.
David Schwartz, geologist for US Geological Survey, said the most worrying fault line passes through the “most densely populated part of the Bay Area”.
More than 7.4 million people live near the Hayward Fault – one of many fault lines experts are concerned about.
“The Bay Area is positioned in the middle of the boundary zone of the North American plate and Pacific plate,” Schwartz said.
“The Bay Area has the highest density of faults per square mile in any urban centre.”
Schwartz said since 1906, the region has had an unusually small amount of earthquake activity.
But he added: “I think to a degree we’re on borrowed time.”
“All of these faults haven’t moved in quite a while and have to catch up.
“I think in all probabilities … down the road almost inevitably faults will begin to move again.”
To prepare residents for the worst, Southern California Earthquake Center is holding earthquake drills across the state on October 19.
Schools, colleges, businesses and community groups will practice one-minute “Drop, Cover and Hold On” drills across the state.
Safety experts are recommending that everyone takes part in the Great ShakeOut drill to avoid injury and death in the event of a massive earthquake.
“Everyone, everywhere should know how to protect themselves in an earthquake,” said Mark Benthien, Global ShakeOut coordinator at the Southern California Earthquake Center.
“The ongoing fires in Northern California, September’s earthquakes in Mexico, and recent hurricanes remind us that we’re all in this together.”
An earthquake drill, response exercise, press conference, and demonstration area will take place at the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles’ Expo Park.
“The Great California ShakeOut is such an important opportunity for us all to practice what to do the instant the ground starts to shake – Drop, Cover and Hold On,” said Glenn Pomeroy, CEO of the California Earthquake Authority.
“This simple drill can help save lives when we get hit by the next big earthquake that scientists assure us is coming.”