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Quake biggest to hit So. Calif. since '92

LOS ANGELES — A strong earthquake south of the U.S.-Mexico border Sunday swayed high-rises in downtown Los Angeles and San Diego and was felt across Southern California and Arizona, knocking out power and breaking pipes in some areas but causing no major damage.

The 7.2-magnitude quake struck at 3:40 p.m. in Baja California, Mexico, about 19 miles southeast of Mexicali, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It was initially reported as a magnitude-6.9 quake. The updated magnitude was still an estimate, according to USGS seismologist Lucy Jones.

The area was hit by magnitude-3.0 quakes all week.

"It's been quite a while since we've had an earthquake this large," Jones said. "The last time we had an earthquake this large in either Baja or California was in 1992 with the Landers Earthquake, which was 7.3."

The USGS reported three strong aftershocks within the hour, including a magnitude-5.1 jolt in the Imperial County desert east of San Diego. Magnitude-4.5 and magnitude-4.3 aftershocks were also reported.

The 7.2-magnitude quake was felt as far north as Santa Barbara, USGS seismologist Susan Potter said.

Strong shaking was reported in the Coachella Valley and Riverside. The earthquake rattled buildings on the west side of Los Angeles and in the San Fernando Valley, interrupting Easter dinners. Chandeliers swayed and drinks jiggled in glasses.

In San Diego, there were reports of shattered windows, broken pipes and water main breaks in private buildings, but no reports of injuries, San Diego Fire-Rescue Department spokesman Maurice Luque said.

Coronado Bridge over San Diego Bay was briefly closed by the California Highway Patrol as a precaution.

In Los Angeles, water sloshed out of residential swimming pools, the city fire department went on "earthquake status," and some stalled elevators were reported. No major damage was reported in Los Angeles or San Diego.

"It sounds like it's felt by at least 20 million people at this point," said Jones, the seismologist. "Most of Southern California felt this earthquake."

The quake was felt for about 40 seconds in Tijuana, Mexico, causing buildings to sway and knocking out power in parts of the city. Families celebrating Easter ran out of the homes, with children screaming and crying.

Baja California state Civil Protection Director Alfredo Escobedo said there were no immediate reports of injuries or major damage. But he said the assessment was ongoing.

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