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5.0 Quake Jolts Southland; 27 Injured, Damage Slight : One Fatal Heart Attack Reported

February 11, 1988|TED ROHRLICH | Times Staff Writer

A moderately strong earthquake centered about 10 miles east of downtown struck the Los Angeles area at 7:25 a.m. today, swaying skyscrapers and sending at least 27 people to hospitals, mainly with minor injuries.

A 57-year-old Hacienda Heights man suffered a fatal heart attack during the quake, according to paramedics who took him to Queen of the Valley Hospital in West Covina.

The quake was an aftershock of the Oct. 1 Whittier Narrows temblor. It was measured at 5.0 on the Richter scale at Caltech's seismology lab, and at 4.7 at the U.S. Geological Survey's earthquake center at Golden, Colo. Such differences are often attributed to distance from the quake and to varying interpretations of preliminary readings.

The readings mean that this morning's quake was about 10 times less powerful than the Oct. 1 shaker, which measured 5.9 on the Richter scale, claimed three lives and caused more than $300 million in damage.

This time, no significant structural damage was reported, said James Alexander of the state Office of Emergency Services. Minor damage--chiefly broken windows, objects falling off shelves, and cracked chimneys--was reported in La Puente, Montebello, Whittier, Altadena, Santa Ana and Fullerton.

The quake lasted about 15 seconds--long enough to set off burglar and car alarms and sway buildings through much of the metropolitan area. It was felt as far south as San Diego and as far east as Palm Springs.

Brief Loss of Power

About 26,000 customers on Los Angeles' Eastside were without electricity for about a minute because of a quake-triggered malfunction in a receiving station, the city's Department of Water and Power reported.

Nearly 30,000 customers of GTE in Rio Hondo and Diamond Bar lost telephone service for as long as an hour.

At Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital in Whittier where 20 people were treated, spokeswoman Maria Adams reported that a majority were injured when they panicked, "rather than by the earthquake itself."

She said some ran and tripped, spraining their ankles. Others suffered cuts from broken glass.

Two women were admitted to the hospital: one, 87, suffering from chest pains, and another, 64, who suffered a broken vertebra.

Five people were treated at Queen of the Valley Hospital, and two were admitted for observation, according to a spokeswoman.

At Pomona Valley Community Hospital, two people were treated for minor injuries, including one who apparently jumped from a ladder during the earthquake, officials said.

Greenleaf Avenue

In the business district of Whittier, the area hardest hit by the Oct. 1 quake, the main street, Greenleaf Avenue, still looks like a gaptoothed youngster, with an average of one building demolished on every block because of structural damage.

People there this morning were nervous.

John Long remarked, "Everywhere I go, I wonder what I should do when an earthquake hits and plan what table to jump under."

Rebecca Gutierrez, a nurse on her way to work, said her 9-year-old son has been sleepwalking since the earlier quake. This morning, she said, "he flew to me and grabbed me and was holding on like you wouldn't believe."

Seismologists said this morning's jolt was the largest in what they termed a "resurgence" of aftershock activity that began Dec. 24. The largest aftershock--a 5.3 shaker-- was recorded Oct. 4.

Times staff writers Kenneth Reich, Bob James, Jill Stewart, Tracy Wood, Mary Lou Fulton, Nieson Himmel and Susan Avery contributed to this article.

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