California earthquake hits 5.5 on Richter scale

The Associated Press

RIDGECREST, Calif. A moderate earthquake centered beneath this Southern California desert town on yesterday rocked an area from the Pacific Ocean to Nevada. There were no immediate reports of injury or damage.

''The earth bucked. That's what it felt like,'' said Scott Farwell, managing editor of the Ridgecrest Daily Independent, ''It shook for a good long while, maybe as long as 30 to 40 seconds.''

He said he was at a bowling alley when the quake hit at 4:27 p.m., ''and all the pins fell down.''

The magnitude-5.5 earthquake was centered 10 miles north of Ridgecrest, said Jay Aller, a spokesman for California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. A magnitude-5.4 earthquake centered in the same area hit on Aug. 17.

Jim Mori, a U.S. Geological Survey seismologist at the institute, said yesterday's quake was probably not an aftershock to the earlier temblor.

Yesterday's quake was felt in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino and Orange counties, and as far away as Las Vegas. Ridgecrest, population 28,000, is about 100 miles north of Los Angeles.

Floyd Hickey, who lives in Tehachapi, about 65 miles southwest of Ridgecrest, said he was lying on the couch ''and the couch just started moving and I thought the house was being exorcised or something.''

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