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5.4 earthquake hits Southern California; felt in Los Angeles [Updated]

July 7, 2010 |  5:00 pm

A 5.9 earthquake rocked Southern California this afternoon and was felt across a wide area.

According to U.S. Geological Survey, the quake hit at 4:53 p.m. near Borrego Springs, about 28 miles south of Palm Springs. It was followed by several small aftershocks.

There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries, but some residents said the quake caused glass to break.

Its the latest in a string of powerful of quakes to hit Southern California in the last few months, ever since a 7.2 quake hit the Mexicali area on Easter Sunday.

[Updated at 5:07 p.m.: The USGS downgraded the quake to 5.4 magnitude. The Los Angeles Fire Department said it has not received reports of serious damage or injuries. Residents in Riverside County told The Times they felt a sharp jolt but have not witnessed major damage.

Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz said that he experienced strong jolts at police headquarters but that there was no initial report of serious damage.

“So far everything is OK,” Diaz said. “To me it felt like two separate events. The first felt like a foreshock;  the second one was stronger.”

“It was scary,” said Celina Vega of Borrego Springs. “I can hardly talk because I’m still shaking. “

She said the earthquake hit as she was getting ready to go to work at Kendall’s Cafe. “I screamed. Glasses fell at my house. We’re not used to earthquakes here in Borrego Springs. When we felt it, oh my gosh, scary!”]

[Updated at 5:26 p.m.: The quake swayed skyscrapers in downtown San Diego, but there were no reports of damage there.

A rockslide was reported on a road outside of Palm Springs neat the aerial tramway, accord to the Desert Sun. But someone at the tramway restaurant told The Times there was no major damage. Palm Springs Fire Chief Blake Goetz told The Times that there was a rock slide near the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, but no damage to the Tramway itself.

Mary Jane Laws, an assistant manager at Center Market Grocery Store in Borrego Springs, said that a lot of products fell of the store shelves – but there was no major damage.

“I’ve been here 30 years and it was bigger than any of us have experienced,” Laws said. “It shook up and down really hard. That was the big jolt, then back and forth. It feels like forever, but it was probably only 10 to 15 seconds.”

There weren’t many customers in the store when the quake hit, but Laws said, “The employees, they bolted. The cash registers are right by the door.”

The residents are accustomed to an occasional temblor, but Laws said, “It was a little bit more than we’re comfortable.” At least for the evening, it will give the sleepy town something to chat about in the off season. “This place is going to be just atwitter,” Laws said. “We’ll be in the coffee shop, talking about all kinds of things."]

-- Andrew Blankstein, Rong-Gong Lin II and Kimi Yoshino

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