State’s Building Code Helps Minimize Losses from California Earthquake

July 30, 2008

The moderate earthquake that struck Los Angeles late Tuesday (July 29) morning at 11:42am PDT has not caused major damage or serious injury, according to early eyewitness reports and the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Based on the latest available information on the seismic parameters of this event, insurance forecaster AIR Worldwide said it does not expect significant insured losses. The firm says part of the credit for the few losses goes to the state’s building codes.

“Building codes in California are among the strictest in the world,” said Mehrdad Mahdyiar, director of earthquake hazard at AIR Worldwide. “AIR expects minimal to no damage to engineered structures and residential wood frame from Tuesday’s event. Older masonry buildings that have not undergone retrofit may sustain some minor shear cracks and damaged parapets.”

The quake was felt as far south as San Diego and as far away as Las Vegas.

The U.S. Geological Survey initially issued a moment magnitude (Mw) of 5.8 and later downgraded the event to 5.4.

The epicenter was located about 30 miles east of Los Angeles in the community of Chino Hills. Focal depth was reported to be 7.6 miles, said Mehrdad Mahdyiar, director of earthquake hazard at AIR Worldwide.

AIR reported that more than a dozen aftershocks followed the initial temblor, the largest of which was estimated at magnitude 3.8.

In Los Angeles, buildings swayed for several seconds. Occupants streamed out from some buildings and city officials evacuated City Hall. Early reports of minor damage include a water main near California State University in the Monterey Park area that broke and lifted the roadway and two streets in the community of City Terrace that buckled.

Source: AIR Worldwide

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