Earthquake, aftershocks shake Central Illinois

Jeanette Kendall

Most people might have slept through last week’s earthquake, and the aftershocks that followed, but Central Illinoisans are being reminded again that this area is not immune to temblors.

The National Weather Service in Lincoln reported that an earthquake occurred at 4:37 a.m. Friday across Illinois. The quake’s magnitude was reported at 5.2 on the Richter scale. The quake’s origin was five miles north-north east of Bellmont in Wabash County.

At 10:14 a.m., people reported a an aftershock occurred.

The U.S. Geological Survey reported that the magnitude 4.6 earthquake/aftershock occurred seven miles east-south-east of West Salem.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich directed the Illinois Emergency Management Agency to activate the State Emergency Operations Center in Springfield to assess the impact.

The State Emergency Operations Center received initial reports of minor damage in southern Illinois. There were no reports of injuries.

The Ready Illinois Web site, www.Ready.Illinois.gov, lists the following safety measures.

Stay as safe as possible during an earthquake.

Be aware that some earthquakes are actually foreshocks and a larger earthquake might occur.

Minimize your movements to a few steps to a nearby safe place and stay indoors until the shaking has stopped and you are sure exiting is safe.

If indoors:

• Drop to the ground; take cover by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and hold on until the shaking stops. If there is not a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.

• Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.

• Stay in bed if you are there when the earthquake strikes. Hold on and protect your head with a pillow, unless you are under a heavy light fixture that could fall. In that case, move to the nearest safe place.

• Use a doorway for shelter only if it is in close proximity to you and if you know it is a strongly supported, loadbearing doorway.

• Stay inside until shaking stops and it is safe to go outside. Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave.

• Be aware that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms may turn on.

• Do not use elevators.

If outdoors:

• stay there.

• Move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires.

• Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops. The greatest danger exists directly outside buildings, at exits, and alongside exterior walls. Many of the 120 fatalities from the 1933 Long Beach earthquake occurred when people ran outside of buildings only to be killed by falling debris from collapsing walls. Ground movement during an earthquake is seldom the direct cause of death or injury. Most earthquake-related casualties result from collapsing walls, flying glass and falling objects.

If in a moving vehicle:

• Stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses and utility wires.

• Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges, or ramps that might have been damaged.