San Diego County was little more than rattled Sunday, but one of the strongest earthquakes to strike the region in decades left at least two dead, 100 injured and others trapped inside their homes in Mexico.
2 magnitude earthquake struck northwest Mexico’s Baja California, rattling Arizona and southern California, authorities said.
The quake struck at 3:40 p.m. (6:40 p.m. ET) about 110 miles east-southeast of Tijuana, Mexico, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
One person was killed in a building collapse in Mexicali, Mexico, according to the assistant director of civil protection in Tijuana. The other victim died when he ran from his residence into the street and was hit by a car, said Alfredo Escobedo, Mexico’s director of civil protection.
All 100 injuries are concentrated in Mexicali, Escobedo said.
In California and Arizona, there were no immediate reports of injuries and only limited reports of damages.
The 7.2 temblor also cracked the main aqueduct that carries Colorado River water from Mexicali to Tijuana, leaving Tijuana residents severely limited in their water use.
Rescue teams with dogs and digging equipment were rushing to Mexicali from nearby Tijuana, but a landslide along that highway was slowing traffic.
Late Sunday night families still without power gathered in the streets in the Mexicali Valley, where close to a million people live.
The biggest hospital in Mexicali planned to move all its patients to other facilities because of structural damage.
By contrast, the quake’s impact in San Diego was fleeting, disrupting the Easter Sundays of many while they assessed the damage.
Suzanne Ziring, a waitress eight months removed from an earthquake-free existence in Philadelphia, had just entered an elevator on the 12th floor after serving Easter brunch downtown at Bertrand at Mister A’s.
She assumed from the bouncing that the cables had snapped. “I thought I was dying,” she said. “I didn’t realize it was an earthquake.”
Over at the Sheraton Hotel and Marina on Harbor Drive, Amy Present, visiting from Plymouth, Wis., was on the 10th floor when “everything started shaking. The carpet and drywall began shifting.”
She’d made it all the way down to the third floor before the building stopped moving. Cracks were later discovered in the floors, but the building was deemed safe to re-enter, said San Diego fire department spokesman Maurice Luque.
Authorities were dispatched all over the county as nervous residents called in with concerns. It was a familiar scene for many San Diegans. Pets cowered. Pictures fell. Mothers fled homes with babies in tow. Even the hippos at the zoo stood up fast and headed for water.
Nine minutes after the Mexico quake, a magnitude 4.1 quake rattled windows in Santa Rosa, north of San Francisco. No damage was reported there, and Susan Potter, a USGS geophysicist, told CNN that was a separate quake from the one that struck in the Baja California desert. The USGS initially reported that the Baja California quake had a 6.9 magnitude. The USGS upgraded the quake about an hour later.
The quake was the largest in the Baja California area since 1992, the USGS reported. The 1992 quake, which struck in Landers, California, triggered an earthquake the next day in Nevada and another quake 11 days later in Southern California, according to USGS seismologist Lucy Jones. Both were 5.7 magnitude quakes.