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1994: Massive earthquake hits Los Angeles

VIDEO : Images of earthquake devastation

A huge earthquake has rocked Los Angeles, killing more than 20 people.

The earthquake, which measured 6.6 on the Richter scale and lasted for 40 seconds, struck at 0431 local time (1231 GMT).

More than 1,000 people have been injured and the death toll is expected to rise as rescuers continue to pull bodies from collapsed buildings.

Mayor of Los Angeles Richard Riordan has declared a state of emergency and an evening curfew has been imposed.

The airport has been closed due to a lack of power and doctors are having to perform surgery in the open air because hospital buildings are severely damaged.

'Stay home, stay calm'

The area worst hit is reported to have been the San Fernando Valley where the quake is likely to have affected up to three million people.

Los Angeles emergency services are stretched to the limit and using heat detecting cameras and listening equipment to trace signs of life beneath the rubble.

One of the city's fire fighters, Grove Lumas, said it was fortunate the quake had struck during the night.

He said: "If this had happened in the middle of the day we would have been stacking up the bodies."

Experts are warning of potential aftershocks and police have issued a statement warning of isolated cases of looting.

The authorities have told residents to "stay home" and "stay calm".

In Context
The final number of dead was 60.

The number of injured was 7,707 and more than 5,000 buildings were deemed to be unsafe. Repairing the damage to the city cost around $30 billion.

The earthquake was felt as far south as San Diego 200km away and as far north as Las Vegas, 440km to the north east.

President Clinton visited the area in the week following the earthquake and immediately asked Congress to raise $6.6 billion for an emergency relief fund.

On the same date a year later and almost to the hour a massive tremor hit Kobe in Japan. Registering 7.0 on the Richter scale it killed more than 6,000 people.


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