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Southern California rocked by earthquake, minor damage

March 18, 1997

CALICO GHOST TOWN, Calif. (AP) _ Century-old buildings and a modern overpass were cracked, bottles were tossed off shelves and nerves rattled Tuesday by a magnitude-5.4 earthquake, an aftershock of a 1992 temblor.

No injuries were reported in the 7:42 a.m. quake, which was centered 12 miles east-northeast of Barstow.

It was the latest of about 60,000 aftershocks to the magnitude-7.3 Landers quake. That temblor on June 28, 1992, was followed within hours by a 6.5 quake near Big Bear in the San Bernardino Mountains. Together, they killed one person, injured 400 and caused nearly $100 million in damage.

Tuesday’s quake was about 60 miles northwest of Landers. It generated its own aftershocks, the largest a magnitude-3.7 temblor at 8:19 a.m., and was preceded during the night by a few smaller quakes, the largest at 2.9.

The quake was felt throughout San Bernardino County and as far south as downtown Los Angeles, 100 miles away.

The Calico Ghost Town, a recreated 1881 mining camp, was shut down for safety inspection after cracks were found in four or five wood and adobe buildings.

``Several buildings have what appear to be damage to the walls and the facades. It looks like cracks in the walls running from top to bottom. Some small walls fell over,″ Sgt. John Mattke at the Barstow sheriff’s station said.

Several iron ore mines, now tourist attractions, also were closed for inspection.

Calico Ghost Town spokesman Steven Nelson said the brief quake sent up a thin, dusty haze of desert sand.

``It was a quickie but it had some vigor and force to it,″ he said.

Near Barstow, an interstate overpass had a few small cracks but was safe for traffic, California Department of Transportation officials said.

Easter baskets tumbled from shelves at the nearby Wal-Mart and several dozen liquor bottles fell to the ground at a Thrifty’s drug store.

``I’ve got a lot of broken glass, things thrown off the shelves,″ said Maggie Ariy at Thrifty’s. ``Quite a mess.″

Landers aftershocks could continue at detectable levels for another decade, said Kate Hutton, a seismologist at California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

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