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State's largest-ever earthquake drill begins this morning

At 10:15 this morning, scores of people across California are expected to participate in what is billed as the largest earthquake drill ever.

Shakeout The Great California Shakeout is intended to help people and organizations to prepare and protect themselves during earthquakes. Last year, nearly 5.5 million people took part in the drill, according to event organizers. 

Schoolchildren will practice the "drop, cover and hold on" drill, and many organizations will go over their emergency plans.

The drill is being staged through a partnership of a number of organizations, including the American Red Cross, California Department of Education and the U.S. Geological Survey.

Last year's drill produced some significant findings.

Data from suggested that about five high-rise steel-framed buildings in the region would have collapsed in the modeled magnitude 7.8 quake. High-rise steel-framed buildings sustained less damage than unreinforced brick and older concrete buildings in the analysis.

But the damage they sustained was greater than expected based on the standard building design formulas.

The findings come 14 years after the Northridge earthquake, which exposed weaknesses in some older steel-frame buildings. Officials hoped policymakers would use the results as they develop guidelines for retrofitting existing buildings and set standards for new ones.

-- Robert J. Lopez

Photo: Glendale office worker Jean Choi takes cover during the Great Southern California Shakeout drill last year. Credit: Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times

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