Powerful Quake in Northern California Leaves More Than 70 Hurt

The 6.1-magnitude earthquake struck 81 kilometers north of San Francisco, the largest to hit the Bay area since 1989.


More than 70 people were sent to hospital with injuries and power outages darkened multiple cities in northern California after a 6.1-magnitude earthquake struck early Sunday. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) said the earthquake struck at 3:20 A.M. (1020 GMT) at a depth of 10.8 kilometers. It was located nine kilometers south-west of the Napa wine region, and 81 kilometers north of San Francisco.

At the Valley Medical Center in Napa, a spokeswoman said 70 people were treated for minor cuts and bruises. According to local media reports, the hospital set up a triage tent to take incoming patients.

The USGS said it was the largest earthquake in the Bay area since the 6.9-magnitude Loma Prieta quake in 1989 that caused major infrastructural damage. Pacific Gas and Electric, California's main utilities company, reported thousands of power outages in Napa and Santa Rosa, with smaller pockets of outages across the northern part of the state.

The USGS, which has dubbed the tremor the South Napa Earthquake, said it originated near the West Napa and Carneros-Franklin faults that are part of the well-known San Andreas Fault system. Homes across the area were destroyed and small fires broke out in multiple cities, broadcaster CNN reported. Local station KTVU said that a steeple in the town of Vallejo had collapsed. Napa Division Fire Chief told local media outlets that at least six major fires were caused by the quake, and that efforts to quell the flames were complicated by broken water lines.

A spokesman for the California Highway Patrol told local media that there were major cracks in many of the state's roads and highways, but that no injuries had yet been reported. 

A probability report published by the Northern California Seismic System puts the likelihood of a strong aftershock at 54 per cent within the next seven days.