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(BBC) — Southern California has been struck by a moderate earthquake, of 6.4 magnitude, which has caused some fires.
The tremor’s epicentre was near the city of Ridgecrest, about 150 miles (240 km) northeast of Los Angeles.
People from the Mojave Desert to the Pacific coast are reported to have felt shaking as the US celebrated Independence Day.
Firefighters said they were providing medical assistance and dealing with fires in and around Ridgecrest.
The city’s mayor, Peggy Breedon, told CNN that some people had been struck by objects falling from buildings and gas lines had been broken.
“We are used to earthquakes but we’re not used to this significance,” she said.
According to AP news agency, it is the strongest earthquake to hit the region in two decades.
The earthquake was reportedly felt as far as Las Vegas in Nevada. There have been several smaller aftershocks.
US President Donald Trump tweeted that the situation was under control.
Lucy Jones, a seismologist with the US Geological Survey, told reporters the epicentre was in a relatively uninhabited area.
She said there would likely be a number of aftershocks, some powerful.
One man tweeted images from inside a supermarket in Ridgecrest showing the aisle floors covered with fallen items.
April Rodriguez, who lives in Trona just south of Ridgecrest, told CNN: “We were just panicked trying to get out of the house because everything was just falling out of the cabinets, off the shelves, off the walls, pictures… They were flying like missiles off the shelves.”
Ridgecrest has a population of about 28,000 people.
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