* Quake scares residents from Tijuana to Los Angeles
* About 100 injuries reported by Mexican authorities
* Quake cracks highway linking Tijuana to Mexicali
(Updates with report on injuries, details of damage)
By Lizbeth Diaz
TIJUANA, Mexico, April 4 A major 7.2 magnitude
earthquake struck near the Mexico-California border on Sunday,
killing at least one person as it rocked buildings, ruptured a
highway and panicked residents from Tijuana to Los Angeles.
One person died when a house in Mexicali collapsed, Alfredo
Escobedo, director of emergency services in Baja California
state, Mexico, said. He said others had been trapped in
elevators, retaining walls collapsed in some places and
electricity was out in several parts of the state.
"There are around 100 people injured," Escobedo told
Reuters, but he had no reports of people stuck under collapsed
Local newspaper La Cronica said two people had died.
The relatively shallow quake was centered in a lightly
populated area in northeastern Baja California near the city of
Mexicali on the U.S. border. It knocked down power lines, cut
off most phone communications and tore big cracks in a highway
linking Tijuana to Mexicali.
The U.S. town of Calexico, over the border from Mexicali,
suffered substantial structural damage but no casualties, local
Fire Chief Pete Mercado told ABC7 TV News in Los Angeles.
"We are a population of 40,000 people, bordered next to 1.5
million. So we have a significant amount of damage down in
Mexicali," he said. "I have not got an update from the Mexican
Mexicali is a prosperous city and a busy border crossing
with the United States. Local industry is mainly agriculture,
food processing plants and assembly-for-export plants. Images
after the quake showed damaged but not collapsed buildings.
A series of aftershocks rocked the area around the
epicenter, 30 miles (50 km) to the southeast of Mexicali and
close to the town of Guadalupe Victoria for several hours.
"It's still shaking," Nadia Camacho, a receptionist at a
Mexicali hotel which had cracks in its floor and walls, said
hours after the quake struck at 3:40 p.m. Pacific time (2240
GMT). "We are all on alert. Nobody is inside the hotel,
NERVES IN QUAKE-PRONE AREAS
The U.S. Geological Survey measured the quake at 7.2, a
magnitude that can cause serious damage to urban areas.
Devastating earthquakes in Haiti and Chile this year have
left many people nervous across tremor-prone Latin America.
An empty multistory parking garage under construction in
Mexicali collapsed and broken gas pipes sparked a number of
fires, Baja California civil protection official Eduardo
Sandoval told Mexican radio.
In Tijuana, about 135 miles (200 km) from the epicenter, a
Reuters witness said the quake visibly jolted cars in a parking
lot and shook a computer on her desk.
Some neighborhoods of San Diego reported minor structural
damage and burst water pipes and callers to local radio said
the rolling tremor made it hard to keep vehicles on the road.
"This was by far in recent memory the biggest jolt to our
area," said a commentator on on local San Diego radio station.
People in Los Angeles, some 200 miles (320 km) northwest of
the epicenter, felt buildings swaying.
"I'm shaking like a leaf ... the pool water was just going
everywhere," said Jean Nelson in Indio, California, outside
Palm Springs, about 120 miles (190 km) from the epicenter.
Southern California with its many active faults is prone to
frequent quakes, and many residents fearfully anticipate the
next big one. The last to cause major damage was the 6.7
magnitude Northridge quake in 1994 that left 57 dead, injured
9,000 and resulted in about $40 billion in property damage.
(Additional reporting by Robert Campbell and Tomas Sarmiento
in Mexico City, Mary Milliken in Los Angeles and Jackie Frank
in Washington; Writing by Robert Campbell and Catherine Bremer;
Editing by Will Dunham and Chris Wilson)