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Dozens of earthquakes rattle Southern California

Updated at 11:58 p.m. ET: A rash of up to 70 moderate earthquakes rattled Southern California on Sunday, shaking an area from rural Imperial County to the San Diego coast and north into the Coachella Valley.

According to the USGS, the largest quake was 5.5-magnitude that rattled Brawley, Calif., small Imperial County farming town, just before 2 p.m.

A 5.3 magnitude quake struck at 12:31 p.m. about three miles north-northwest of Brawley, according to Paul Caruso, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey. It was followed minutes later by a 4.9 magnitude quake.

The epicenters of the bigger earthquakes were 11 to 12 miles from Imperial, Calif., and 15 to 16 miles from El Centro, Calif., the USGS reported.


Read the story at NBC 7 San Diego

Several glasses and a bottle of wine crashed to the floor and shattered at Assaggio, an Italian restaurant in Brawley, said owner Jerry Ma. The shaking was short-lived but intense, he said.   

"It felt like there was quake every 15 minutes. One after another. My kids are small and they're scared and don't want to come back inside," said Mike Patel, who manages Townhouse Inn & Suites in Brawley. A TV came crashing down and a few light fixtures broke inside the motel, Patel said.   

A Brawley Police Department dispatcher said several downtown buildings sustained minor damage. No injuries were reported.

The USGS said more than 100 aftershocks struck the same approximate epicenter, about 16 miles north of El Centro. Some shaking was felt along the San Diego County coast in Del Mar, some 120 miles from the epicenter, as well as in the Coachella Valley, southern Orange County and parts of northern Mexico.

Some shaking was felt on the coast in Del Mar, some 120 miles from the epicenter, as well as in southern Orange County and parts of northern Mexico.

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The quakes pushed 20 mobile homes at a trailer park off their foundations, displacing the families that lived in them, said Maria Peinado, a spokeswoman for the Imperial County Emergency Operations Center.

Sporadic power outages affecting 2,500 Imperial Irrigation District customers also prompted authorities to evacuate some patients from one of the county's two hospitals.

No injuries were reported.

Residents across San Diego County reported feeling the quakes in places including downtown San Diego, Mission Valley, Santee and Chula Vista. No injuries were reported.

San Diego State University geology expert Pat Abbott told NBC 7 San Diego that Sunday’s earthquakes were in the middle of the Brawley Seismic Zone, famous for swarms of quakes. He said he expected aftershocks.

“[The Brawley Seismic Zone] is a broad zone with lots of little faults,” Abbott explained.

“This area has clearly activated. We will likely experience swarms of 3, 4 and 5-magnitude [earthquakes] but they are not likely to increase in intensity. Of course, there are no guarantees on this, but history says they likely won’t get bigger – that we will experience more of the same or smaller quakes,” he added. 

NBCSanDiego.com and The Associated Press contributed to this story.