Los Angeles Vicinity, CA Earthquake, Feb 1971
16 DIE, 54 ARE MISSING IN LA QUAKE; MANY HURT.
Los Angeles (AP) -- A powerful earthquake jolted Southern California at dawn today causing at least 16 deaths, scores of injuries and heavy damage to buildings, highways, bridges and other facilities.
Authorities said 54 persons were unaccounted for at a Veterans Administration Hospital facility in the San Fernando Valley where seven bodies were found.
Police said two buildings at the facility were leveled by the 6:01 a.m. temblor.
Three others were reported killed at Olive View Sanitarium a mile away. Walls collapsed there.
The shock was centered in the rugged San Gabriel Mountains 26 miles northwest of Los Angeles. The San Fernando Valley is the closest major population center. Hard hit, too, were the towns of Newhall and Saugus, just 10 miles from the center.
The Veterans Administration facility was described as "quite old" with 420 beds. Victims were found amid rubble. Officials said five persons were seriously injured and 53 suffered minor hurts.
Travel into the Newhall - Saugus area, with a population of some 70,000, was virtually blocked by landslides and downed bridges and telephone communication was spotty.
The Newhall newspaper reported fires in the downtown district, virtually all windows in structures broken, and numerous injuries.
The coroner['s office reported four dead in Los Angeles County, which includes Newhall and Saugus. There were unofficial reports of other deaths.
The initial temblor and several strong aftershocks created cracks in the earth-fill dam of Van Norman Lake reservoir, largest in the city system with 6.7 billion gallons. Residents were ordered evacuated from the area in the heavily populated San Fernando Valley as "some leakage" was reported.
The quake caused widespread cracking of walls and plaster, broke thousands of windows, wrecked parts of freeways, destroyed several bridges including some over freeways.
Hospitals reported treating scores of persons for cuts and bruises from flying glass and falling bricks and plaster.
Experts said the shock was not the "great quake" that some have said will occur someday on the San Andreas, California's major fault, which traverses the state north-south. One seismologist placed the center "very close" to the San Gabriel fault, part of a network of earth fractures in the San Andreas system, and said there's a "strong suspicion" it was to blame. The San Gabriel fault caused a severe earthquake in 1893.
The shock was felt from Fresno to the north to the Mexican border to the south, a distance of 350 miles, and as far inland as Las Vegas, Nev.
Travel from Los Angeles airports was not affected by the quake.
About five hours after the quake Gov. Ronald Reagan declared a state of emergency in Los Angeles, a formal step making all resources of the state and various communities available in case of need.
Two interstate highways --Nos. 5 and 405 -- were closed at some points in the Los Angeles area because of buckled pavement or collapsed overpasses.
Experts assigned it a magnitude of 6.5 on the Richter scale, which rates major quakes at 7 or more. The shock was the strongest in this area since the devastating Tehachapi quake of 1952, which killed 12. That one was centered 100 miles north and had a magnitude of 7.2. Today's shock was rated as having approximately the same magnitude at the 1933 shock in nearby Long Beach which killed 115 persons and caused $40 million damage.
The quake hit as most of Los Angeles County's nearly 7 million residents were asleep, or getting ready for work. Many siad they were nearly knocked out of bed, and were startled by the clatter of dishes falling from shelves, plaster cracking and windows shattering.
A motorists on a freeway likened the effect to a blowout.
Damage was heavy in downtown Los Angeles and in its bedroom communities in the San Fernando Valley, population 1-3 million, which is even closer to the center. Hardest hit were two towns closest to the temblor, Newhall and Saugus, just 10 miles away.
There were hundreds of reports of shattered windows, including plate glass in stores and large panes in high rise buildings. Bricks and plaster cascaded into streets. The Golden State Freeway at the west end of the San Fernando Valley was closed due to cracking.
One man was reported killed when a bridge collapsed over the same freeway near Newhall.
Another was killed when the roof of an ancient brick structure in Los Angeles' skid row area, the Midnight Mission, fell in.
Another death was at Olive View Sanitarium in the San Fernando Valley where walls collapsed.
At the Olive View Hospital, about 200 persons were evacuated to a parking lot, then to an older building that was undamaged.
The badly damaged building, which was recently decicated, "sank a foot into the ground, and several small buildings collapsed," KROLL said.
Two persons were reported dead of heart attacks in the wake of the shake.
CIty and county schools were closed so damage could be appraised. So were several downtown buildings. Lockheed Aircraft, hit recently by financial woes, closed two plants pending safety inspection of buildings and cleanup of broken glass.
There were scenes of wild confusion as the quake accompanied by an ominous rumbling sound and violent rolling that lasted nearly a minute, struck as dawn was breaking.
Power lines snapped and transformers showered sparks plunging many areas into darkness. Phone service was knocked out in many areas. Gas mains snapped, with a rash of fires. Water mains parted. Power poles toppled.
Many large apartment buildings were evacuated with residents reported in near panic.
In ensuing hours hospitals in the San Fernando Valley reported receiving scores of injury cases, some walking in, other broght in by helicopter or in emergency vehicles. Corridors and admission desks were jammed. Most valley hospitals suffered at least broken windows and some had wall cracks.
In the San Fernando Valley community of Northridge housewife VIRGINIA WALTERS said she was sitting at the breakfast table "and the whole house began to shake terribly. The water cooler broke and about four gallons went on the kitchen floor." She said lamps toppled, dishes fell, sidewalks cracked and furniture was flipped over.
Said another housewife: "I was in my kitchen. I fell down and hung onto the sink and started praying."
Said a resident of a Los Angeles apartment: "I was virtually knocked out of bed. When I got out I could barely walk the floor was rolling so."
A woman reported residents of her large apartment building were "running around screaming" after the shock.
Motorists driving along commercial streets in Los Angeles, Hollywood and the valley reported sidewalks littered with broken glass. Hospitals reported numerous laceration injuries. Many traffic signals were out for hours.
Damage in communities up and down the coast from Los Angeles was generally light -- some broken windows, falling plaster, and items knocked from shelves. In the Simi Valley of Ventura County a wall fell out of an old hotel.
Telephone communications in the San Fernando Valley and to the hard hit communities of Newhall and Saugus. Travel to the latter towns was difficult due to landslides blocked roads and cracked bridges.
Fire destroyed a large drug store in a San Fernando Valley shopping center.
Police patroled damaged structures closely to prevent looting.
Los Angeles first major skyscraper was closed as a result of earthquake damage to its interior and to special structures designed to withstand the effects of earthquakes, a spokesman said.
The 32-story Occidental Tower, completed in the mid-1960s, suffered some sagging floors at the point where two sections of the building were joined by "seismic joints" constructed to provide flexibility under the stress of earthquakes.
Building officer WILLIAM C. GALLOWAY also reported that the first 11 floors of the building, located at 1150 S. Olive, had broken windows and fallen pieces of roof tile. The upper stories and an adjoining 11-story companion building were undamaged. About 5,000 persons work in the two buildings.
Two newer skyscrapers -- both 42 stories -- reported little or no damage.
The Crocker-Citizens National Bank, at 611 W. 6th St., had a few minor cracks but no other damage, officials said. Its 2,800 employes were at work.
The Union Bank Building, 445 S. Figueroa, reported no visible damage, although elevators were not in service and most of its 2,800 employes went home. Inspectors were checking the buildings elevators for damage.
In Sacramento, officials said the state's $2.8 billion water project survived with no apparent damage. Tunnels, pipes and canals for the project traverse the area hit, bringing water from the north that makes large populations feasible in once-arid Southern California.
The Fresno Bee And Republican California 1971-02-09