Epicenter is fault line below long-dormant volcano
April 4, 2010 (San Diego’s East County) Updated 11:25 p.m. – East County Magazine has obtained translations of Mexican broadcasts moments ago, indicating damage south of the border is substantially more widespread than earlier media reports indicated. At least 50 are injured, according to Mexican Red Cross, and two people have died. Baja California Governor José Guadalupe Osuna Millán announced closure of schools at all levels tomorrow.
An estimated seven to nine structural fires are burning this evening following the 7.2 quake and several major aftershocks. All buildings in Mexicali are being checked by structural engineers; employers are advised not to admit personnel until structures have been cleared. Hospitals are damaged, though still in operation.
Water mains have broken and crews are working to repair them. Power and telephone communications are slowly being restored. A government building in Mexicali has suffered damage and a nearby parking structure has collapsed.
The Los Angeles Times reports that at least six homes in the Mexicali area have been destroyed by fires after propane tanks and power lines were damaged during the quake.
In addition, Baja firefighter, Oscar Silas told the Times that fire department had also received reports that several houses near the volcano Cerro Prieto -- about 19 miles from the quake’s epicenter -- sank into the ground as water rose up around them.
One man was injured when a house collapsed in Mexicali. A second death occurred when a panicked person ran outside into the street during the quake, but was struck by a car and killed.
One bit of good news is that a highway from Tijuana to Mexicali has been reopened and convoys of rescue workers and relief supplies are heading east to Mexicali, a border city of approximately 1 million residents.
In neighboring Imperial County, the Imperial Valley Press reports that a section of I-8 is closed due to freeway damage. One in four store windows on Main Street in El Centro have been shattered by the quakes and one person was injured by a falling sign.
The epicenter of the 7.2 quake that rocked Mexicali late today is the Cerro Prieto Fault, site of the long-dormant Cerro Prieto lava dome volcano. According to the Global Volcanism Program website, “Cucupas Indian legends described a monster that covered the land with hot rocks, which grew through the soil and emitted fire tongues, a possible reference to the growth of the volcano.”
Volcanologists were not available on Easter Sunday to clarify whether or not the recent earthquake activity may be precursors of renewed volcanic activity in the area.
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