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Another strong aftershock rattles Calexico, Mexicali

April 5, 2010 | 10:18 pm

Just as nerves were beginning to settle down, an earthquake initially measuring magnitude 4.9 hit the Calexico-Mexicali region at 9:12 p.m. Monday.

The temblor came at the end of a day of aftershocks, beginning with a magnitude 3.0 at 12:02 a.m.

In Calexico, merchants in the aging downtown spent the day sweeping up broken glass and restocking shelves. The Calexico Fire Department inspected numerous homes after residents reported smelling gas.

About 80% of the businesses downtown have been red-tagged and cannot be reopened to the public until structural inspections are made.

In Mexicali, where the million-plus residents were plunged into darkness Sunday in the wake of the magnitude 7.2 quake, officials were able to restore lights to large portions of the city throughout the day.

Mexicali residents continue to stream into Calexico to stay with family members or rent temporary housing. The northbound lane at the Calexico port of entry remained closed to vehicles, although pedestrian traffic was allowed.

The Calexico east entry point, however, was open to northbound vehicles. Long lines were reported in the evening.

Further south, in the hard-hit farming villages in the Mexicali Valley, hundreds of residents spent the night sleeping outside for fear of entering their damaged and flooded homes. Many had waited in line to get water, food and blankets from the Baja government.

In San Diego County, Caltrans workers were set to work through the night to inspect and repair portions of Interstate 8 in the El Cajon area.

 -- Tony Perry in Calexico