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6.5-magnitude earthquake hits Western Nevada, shakes California

The main highway between Las Vegas and Reno was damaged and closed early this morning after a magnitude 6.5 earthquake hit a remote area of Nevada, that a researcher called the largest quake in the state in 65 years.

No injuries were reported, but Nevada Highway Patrol photos showed deep cracks on U.S. 95 caused by the quake which was felt as far as Utah and Northern California.

The quake struck at 4.03 am local time about 130 miles from Area 51, and near the with people in both states – as well as Utah – reporting feeling the tremor, which originated at a depth of 1.7 miles.  

The U.S. Geoglocical Service said the quake occured as a result of strike slip faulting in the shallow crust of the North American plate.  

It struck at about 35 miles west of Tonopah, just east of the Sierra Nevada range and around halfway between Las Vegas and Reno, according to reports USGS. 

The temblor was given a preliminary magnitude of 6.4 but the USGS later upgraded it to a 6.5-magnitude.

There were no immediate reports of injury, but state troopers and sheriff’s deputies from Esmeralda, Mineral and Nye counties checked highways for possible damage.

The highway between Las Vegas and Reno was closed after troopers found deep cracks, and crews were working to reopen the highway. 

The USGS said the initial quake struck about 4.7 miles deep and more than a dozen sizable aftershocks were recorded in the first hour after the initial tremor. 

A magnitude-4.6 aftershock struck the same general area about 14 minutes later, followed by another of magnitude-4.9.  

The largest aftershock was felt about 23 minutes after the first tremor, when a 5.1 aftershock hit, the USGS reported. 

Highway 95 was hard-hit with the Nevada Highway Patrol releasing an image showing a deep chasm in the road, which is now closed for repairs. 

The quake was felt most widely by residents in Reno, Las Vegas and Eastern Sierra. 

The area is an active seismic region, said Graham Kent, director of the Nevada Seismological Lab at the University of Nevada, Reno. 

He compared this morning’s quake with twin December 1954 earthquakes at Fairview Peak and Dixie Valley. Kent said those temblors, occurring four minutes apart, were magnitudes 7.1 and 6.8. Other sources put their magnitudes at 7.3 and 6.9, respectively.  

People from Salt Lake City to California´s Central Valley tweeted that they felt it.

‘It shook, but it wasn’t that much,’ Nye County sheriff’s Capt. David Boruchowitz said in Pahrump. He reported no damage at the Mizpah Hotel and Clown Motel, two landmark businesses in Tonopah, a historic mining town about halfway between Las Vegas and Reno.

Keith Hasty, an employee at a gas station in Tonopah, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal groceries were shaken off shelves and residents who frequented the store said televisions shook. 

One woman in Sacramento posted on Twitter early Friday: ‘I felt #earthquake about 35 minutes ago from my home south of Sacramento. A few minutes later reports of 6.2 magnitude near Tonopah Nevada. I hope everyone is ok!’ 

Another posted a meme of a man saying ‘I don’t want it’ alongside a post that read: ‘When you move to Nevada to get farther away from the big one, but the earthquakes follow you.’ 

Another Nevada resident described the quake as ‘intense’.

‘#Nevada we just had an #earthquake that was so intense think it just shook the whole state,’ they posted. 

Many people also posted footage of the movement felt inside their homes. 

One person shared a video of the light fixture in their California home swinging back and forth from the quake.

’12 floors up in Fresno California! #earthquake’ the post read.

Someone in Nevada also shared footage of a plant shaking in their room as they felt the quake.  

The USGS had received more than 16,600 reports from people who said they had felt the quake, through its ‘Did You Feel It?’ reporting tool, as of 11.02am local time.

Perceived shaking for the quake was strong to very strong, it said, but the likelihood of casualties and damage is low.   

The USGS has put the area on a green alert – the lowest alert level – for both fatalities and economic impact. 

The quake is the result of strike slip faulting in the shallow crust of the North America plate, the NSGS reported. 

Around five earthquakes of a similar magnitude strike California and Nevada every year. 

An earthquake is not considered major until it reaches magnitude-7.0 or above.  

Video: 6.4 Magnatude Earthquake Near Reno, NV

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