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Moderate Earthquake Rocks Los Angeles Area

A moderate earthquake rocked the Los Angeles region late Sunday that was felt by many people, but there were no immediate reports of any major injuries or damage.

California Earthquakes
CNBC.com
California Earthquakes

The magnitude-4.7 quake hit at 8:39 p.m. local time, about 10 miles (16 kilometers) southwest of downtown Los Angeles, near Inglewood, according to a preliminary report by the U.S. Geological Survey. The quake was followed minutes later by at least three smaller aftershocks, with the largest registering at magnitude-3.1.

The quake jiggled the greater Los Angeles region for about 10 to 15 seconds and was felt as far south as San Diego, said USGS seismologist Susan Hough.

"This was a serious jolt. It was probably felt within 100 miles," Hough said.

The shaking was most intense in the coastal communities south of the Los Angeles International Airport. Some residents said books and other items were knocked off the shelves. However, people who live north of downtown Los Angeles either felt a light shake or nothing at all.

There were no reports of any damage at LAX, just miles (kilometers) from the epicenter. The Los Angeles Fire Department received plenty of calls, but none to report any major injuries, said spokesman Brian Humphrey.

Tom Oswalt, 46, said he was packing clothes for a business trip at his home in Long Beach when the shaking started.

"First thing I thought was 'Is this the big one?' It was pretty powerful," he said. "My first thought was to get out of the building, get my dog and get out of the building. Now we're just waiting for aftershocks."

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Hough said there will likely be more aftershocks in the "threes, maybe a four," but only a five percent chance of a larger quake. "People should be on their toes," she said.

Seismologists had pegged the quake initially at a magnitude-4.7, then revised it to a magnitude-5.0, but updated it about an hour after the temblor struck back to 4.7.

During earthquakes, it is not unusual for magnitudes to change as scientists comb through data from hundreds of seismic stations in the field that record the shaking.

The quake, which hit 8.4 miles (13.5 kilometers) below the surface, appears consistent with movement on the Newport-Inglewood fault, said USGS geophysicist Ken Hudnut.

The Newport-Inglewood fault was responsible for magnitude-6.4 Long Beach earthquake in 1933 that caused 120 deaths and more than $50 million in property damage.

It's the largest quake in the greater Los Angeles area since a magnitude-5.4 quake struck Chino Hills.