Deadly Mexico-California quake rattles nerves

Families huddled in parks and car
parks in the northern Mexican border city of Mexicali after aftershocks from a
big earthquake led them to sleep out in debris-strewn streets.

Two people died and around 100 were
injured when a strong 7.2 magnitude quake rocked the Mexico-California border
area on Sunday afternoon, Baja California Gov. Jose Osuna told the Televisa
television network. One person was crushed in a collapsed house, the other hit
by a falling wall.

The tremor, felt as far north as
Los Angeles, cracked main roads, toppled electricity posts and knocked down an
empty multi-storey car park under construction in Mexicali, a prosperous city
and busy border crossing.

Hundreds of people camped out
overnight as smaller tremors shook buildings with cracked floors, walls and
broken windows.

A highway connecting Mexicali with
the nearby border city of Tijuana on the Pacific coast was ruptured by a crack
at least 3 feet deep, according to a witness.

Sunday’s quake rattled nerves in
the United States and across tremor-prone Latin America which has been shaken
by devastating earthquakes in Haiti and Chile this year.

Home to more than a million people,
Mexicali is a centre for food processing and assembly-for-export plants.

The relatively shallow quake was
centred in a lightly populated area some 30 miles to the southeast of the city.
For several hours aftershocks rocked the area.

Over the border in the U.S. town of
Calexico, eight downtown blocks were closed off as Border Patrol agents helped
police secure the area against looters. Stores had leaning awnings, smashed
windows and broken vases in window displays.

Some neighbourhoods of San Diego
reported minor structural damage and burst water pipes. Callers to local radio
said the rolling tremor made it hard to keep vehicles on the road.

In Los Angeles people felt
buildings swaying.


A handout picture pro-vided by La Cronica de Mexicali newspaper shows a building affected by the 7,2 magnitude earthquake that hit Baja California