US & Canada

Magnitude 4.4 earthquake felt near Los Angeles

Employee Paula Anania cleans up hair care products that were knocked off the shelf in a beauty supply store in the Encino area of Los Angeles after a 4.4 earthquake jolted the area on 17 March 2014
The quake was so minor it only knocked hair products off the shelf in this Los Angeles store

An earthquake has been strongly felt near Los Angeles, California, rattling nerves but causing no major damage, injury or deaths.

The 4.4-magnitude quake struck 9km (5.6 miles) from the Los Angeles neighbourhood of Westwood.

It hit at 06:25 local time (13:25 GMT), US officials said.

It was the strongest earthquake in Los Angeles since the last aftershocks from the 1994 Northridge quake, a government scientist said.

Dr Lucy Jones of the US Geological Survey (USGS) told the local CBS broadcaster there was a 5% chance another strong quake would strike within the next three days.

USGS seismologist Robert Graves told US media the quake occurred at a depth of nearly 8km (5 miles) and there were several aftershocks, including one of 2.7 magnitude.

"This is reminder we live in earthquake country," he said, noting it was unusual for a quake of that magnitude to strike a large population centre.

There were no immediate reports of injuries, though many Los Angeles area residents said the quake had frightened them out of bed.

"It felt like a bomb going off underneath our house," resident George McQuade told the Associated Press news agency.

"Nothing was damaged, but it sure woke everyone up. It was an eye-opener."

Yvonne Villanueva told broadcaster KTLA she was getting ready for the morning and "all of a sudden I felt it jolt".

"You always have the big one in the back of your head," she said.

The San Andreas fault, on the edge of the Pacific tectonic plate, runs directly through California, and the western US state has long braced for a devastating quake.

The Northridge quake, a 6.7-magnitude one, left at least 60 people dead. A 6.9-magnitude quake in San Francisco five years earlier killed 67 people.

The 1994 Los Angeles earthquake caused widespread death and destruction