Two people were killed early Tuesday morning after a 6.4 magnitude earthquake hit northern California. Twelve injuries were reported.
Humboldt County Sheriff William F. Honsal said none of the injured are considered critical and expects the number to go up. He confirmed that two people who died, a 72-year-old and an 83-year-old, had medical emergencies sometime during the earthquake and emergency services couldn't reach them in a timely manner.
The U.S Geological Survey said the quake hit at a depth of 10 miles just after 5.30 am ET near Eureka in Humboldt County. It struck around 7.4 miles west-southwest of Ferndale. The epicentre of the quake was in the Pacific about 15 miles from Fortuna, part of California's forested Redwood Coast.
The Sheriff's office said more than 70,000 customers in the area were without power as of Tuesday afternoon. Ferndale, Fortuna and Rio Dell were among the hardest hit areas.
Big and Long-Duration Earthquake
This quake, as per witnesses, was different as it was intense and lengthy. Rio Dell Mayor Debra Garnes said it was the most intense earthquake that she has felt. "It was a long-duration earthquake, so it was not only significant in size at 6.4 it was also long."
Kyle Knopp, Rio Dell City Manager, said the city was expected to be without water for 24 to 48 hours and more than 30 homes were damaged. He highlighted that 15 of the homes had been "red tagged" or were determined to be uninhabitable. Knopp believes as many as 150 people could be displaced.
There have been widespread damage to infrastructure – roads and homes throughout Humboldt County.
Honsal said Rio Dell experienced more than 50 aftershocks after the initial quake. The sheriff's office advised local residents to brace for potential aftershocks. The US Geological Survey explained that aftershocks are common after a significant earthquake and can be damaging or deadly despite generally being smaller than the original shake.
Cynthia Pridmore, a senior engineering geologist with California Geological Survey, said there is 13% chance that another powerful jolt, of magnitude 5.0 or stronger, will strike in the next week. She advised residents to gather food, water, flashlights and other supplies. "People do need to be prepared, especially if they are in weakened structures, to be mindful of where they are staying."
The authorities are currently focused on ensuring that the residents are safe. "Our priority from the very beginning is life," Honsal said. "We are very worried about residents here in the county, so the first thing we are doing is checking on our residents and making sure that they are okay and providing their needs at this present time."
Meanwhile, California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency.