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Last updated at 15:42 BST, Monday, 22 October 2012

California earthquake drill


22 October 2012

Millions of people in the US have taken part in an earthquake drill to raise awareness of how to react if a huge quake was to hit. Scientists studying the San Andreas fault say a huge earthquake is long overdue in California.


Alastair Leithead

Earthquake drill


Click to hear the report


They played the tape in railway stations, school classrooms and offices. More than nine million people in California took part in the annual 'shake out'; an earthquake drill to remind people what to do if the 'big one' hits. The scientists say it's almost certain the San Andreas fault will cause an earthquake measuring higher than a seven on the Richter scale in the next thirty years, and that it's long overdue.

Dr Lucy Jones, a seismologist with the US Geological Survey, says people have to remember the risks: "We've had a rather quiet time in LA for the last 15 years, we haven't had a lot of big earthquakes, that's not going to last and so we need to have ways of getting people to think about it, take responsibility, because a lot of the damage is preventable."

The biggest earthquake on the San Andreas fault in recent history was 1906, which destroyed huge areas of San Francisco and killed thousands of people. More recently, motorway bridges have been brought down, but it's been 18 years since the last major quake. Organisers of the shake out want to remind people their reflex action should be to get on the ground and under a table. More people get hurt, it seems, trying to race outside where the risks are often higher.


Click to hear the vocabulary



training exercise

the 'big one'

a massive earthquake


break in the earth's crust, which can cause earthquakes

Richter scale

a series of numbers used to measure the strength of an earthquake

long overdue

expected for a long time


scientist who studies earthquake


likely dangers



reflex action

automatic behaviour, something done without thinking about it


run quickly

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