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Earthquake rattles northern, central California

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An earthquake registered at 6.1 on the Richter Scale caused damage Sunday in northern California, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. Epicenter is believed to be about four miles northwest of American Canyon, a city in Napa County located about 35 miles northeast of San Francisco, and about 50 miles west-southwest of Sacramento.

The earthquake was recorded at 3:20 a.m. PT. The city’s website was unreachable, as of 7 a.m. PT, but there are several media reports of injuries, fires and other damages.

Mild aftershocks were recorded 5:01 a.m. and 5:47 a.m., registering at 2.5 and 3.6, respectively. The original quakes was felt south of Fresno, about 175 miles southeast of Napa.

The earthquake was recorded about seven miles below the earth’s surface. The USGS reported a 74 percent chance of at least one fatality, and a 24-percent chance of fatalities numbering up to 10.

Using historical scientific data, the USGS estimates damage of the earthquake may ultimately represent one percent of the United States’ gross domestic product. Past earthquakes of similar size have required regional and national responses, according to the USGS.

Some vulnerable structures exist closer to the epicenter, the USGS reported, but most people live in structures designed to withstand an earthquake of this magnitude. Among additional dangers, the USGS said, are landslides and liquefaction, a term for softening of soil.

By comparison, the October 18, 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake centered in the Santa Cruz Mountains was recorded at 6.8 on the Richter Scale. The earthquake and quake-related incidents killed 63 people.

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