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Quake Sways Buildings in Calif.

August 12, 1998

SAN JUAN BAUTISTA, Calif. (AP) _ A sharp earthquake along the San Andreas fault shook Northern California this morning, swaying buildings in downtown San Francisco and disrupting commuter trains.

The quake opened at least three cracks in Highway 101 in San Benito County, but the highway remained open, the California Highway Patrol said.

There were no immediate reports of damage to the town’s historic Spanish mission, founded in 1797, or other buildings in the area, San Benito County Sheriff Harvey Nyland said.

``Earthquakes always feel really scary but the creaking was really scaring me,″ said Cathy Juaracha, receptionist at the hotel Posada de San Juan. ``We have a lot of guests from out of state, out of country and they were freaking out.″

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake, with a magnitude of 5.4, happened at about 7:10 a.m. and was centered 7 miles south-southeast of San Juan Bautista, located 90 miles southeast of San Francisco.

The quake’s point of origin was 5.6 miles deep along the San Andreas fault, USGS spokeswoman Susan Garcia said.

The sheriff said he thought his house in San Juan Bautista was going to go off its foundation.

``The house just kind of moved to my right, and then it snapped back and then there was a rolling type of motion,″ Nyland said.

The quake also caused a rolling sensation for several seconds in San Francisco’s high-rises.

``My couch was moving across the room. It felt like it moved four inches, one inch at a time,″ said Jessica Qualley of San Francisco.

Bay Area Rapid Transit trains were briefly halted to allow officials to check for damage, a routine step after earthquakes.

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