Great California ShakeOut: millions took part in quake drill
On Thursday 18th October at 10:18 a.m. PDT, more than 9.3 million Californians “dropped, covered and held on" during the 5th annual Great California ShakeOut, the world's largest earthquake drill.
Millions of people in schools, businesses, community organizations, government agencies and homes were registered to participate in the 60-second exercise. The event happened just a day after the 23rd anniversary of the Loma Prieta, a 6.9-magnitude earthquake that killed dozens of people in the San Francisco area in 1989.
The largest emergency preparedness drill in Californian history helped residents practice responding and protecting themselves during an earthquake of a 7.6 magnitude.
The purpose of the ShakeOut was to encourage people and organizations to be prepared to survive and recover when the next big earthquake happens.
The event was organized by the Earthquake Country Alliance (ECA), a statewide public-private-community partnership. It aimed to raise awareness among residents, many of whom had little firsthand experience of powerful quakes, and to correct misperceptions about what to do when an earthquake begins.
"This provides a once-a-year reminder that we live in areas that can be strongly shaken at any time," said Steve Walter, a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, California.
The size of the drills have grown steadily since they began in Southern California in 2008. Thursday's drill was also undertaken in British Columbia, Guam, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Alaska, Arizona, Puerto Rico, Washington state, southern Italy (led by U.S. Navy bases) and much of the Southeast U.S.
In all, more than 14 million people participated.