Moments before earthquake struck California, peoples’ phones were buzzed with warning

WION Web Team
New Delhi Published: Dec 22, 2021, 03:58 PM(IST)

A person checks the 'MyShake' app on their smartphone Photograph:( AFP )

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No major casualty, or injury was reported, and the day passed off with minimal panic

On Monday, a strong 6.2 magnitude earthquake jolted the northern California coast. The disaster, which usually spurs panic among people, didn’t even faze the residents.

No major casualty, or injury was reported, and the day passed off with minimal panic.

The residents knew well in advance about the calamity that was to strike. This is thanks to America’s first public earthquake-warning app that gives “seconds to prepare”.

The app, known as ShakeAlert, is managed by the US Geological Survey (USGS) which sends an SMS alert to people seconds before an earthquake of 5.0 magnitude or larger is about to shake their location.


The app, which is available for Android and Apple smartphones, only covers the Los Angeles county.

“We got some reports from folks that they got up to 10 seconds’ warning before they felt shaking. That’s pretty darn good,” Robert de Groot, a ShakeAlert coordinator with the USGS, told the Guardian.


A data package is created from information provided by USGS sensors and – within seconds – shows up on phones. Some apps that provide alerts are available to download but even some who didn’t have an app on their phone were notified. Affected individuals are instructed to drop, cover, and hold on.

The earthquake occurred just after noon and was centred off the coast, near a tiny town called Petrolia that’s home to fewer than 1,000 people.

The USGS estimated economic losses of less than $10 million and no fatalities.

Photos showed shattered store windows, broken bottles falling into store aisles and tiles that had fallen loose from a commercial building’s ceiling.

The area last suffered an earthquake of a similar magnitude in 1993, when one person died, according to the USGS.

(With inputs from agencies)

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