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Calif. officers patrolling quake-damaged town

Police are making sure that there is no looting and that citizens are safe

Associated Press

CALEXICO, Calif. — Police patrolled streets littered with shattered glass Monday morning and closed off several blocks of historic buildings damaged in a deadly Easter Sunday earthquake across the border in Mexico.

No injuries were reported in Calexico, the U.S. area hardest hit by the 7.2-magnitude quake. A 3-block-by-4-block area containing prewar buildings housing businesses was closed because of damage.

Sal Farah, 62, spent the night in his 50-year-old Yturralde Furniture store, fearing it could be looted since the giant storefront windows were knocked out by the quake.

"I didn't get much sleep, especially in the morning when it shook hard again," Farah said, standing in the store littered by broken vases, lamps and shattered knickknacks.

They planned to board up the windows later Monday and hoped to be back in business within a day.

Sunday's quake centered just south of the U.S. border near Mexicali killed two people in Mexico and injured at least 100, including someone who was hit in the head by a sign at a carwash in the California town of El Centro.

Scientists measured about 100 aftershocks early Monday, said seismologist Kate Hutton at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Statistically, there will be one aftershock of around 6.0 and perhaps 10 of 5.0 or larger, she said.

The initial earthquake downed three power lines, a gas leak forced a brief evacuation of about 30 homes, and residents were removed from a senior living center built in the early 1900s. Electricity was out for hours in the city's southeast area.

"Right now our main concern is the safety for the people," said fire Chief Pete Mercado. He said the city was also working on a plan to help Mexicali with water supplies because of damage to their water system.

Despite the jolting, police Lt. Jesus (hay-SOOS') Serrano said there were few emergency calls and no sign of panic.

"There's broken windows, some cracked masonry buildings" and some buildings had falling bricks, although none was in immediate danger of collapse, Serrano said. Damage was still being assessed, he said.

The U.S damage appeared to be limited to California's southeastern Imperial Valley in what was one of the strongest earthquakes to hit the region in decades. The shaking was felt hundreds of miles away in Phoenix and Las Vegas.

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