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Los Angeles (AFP) – The city of Los Angeles was awoken just before dawn on Monday by a relatively powerful magnitude 4.4 earthquake, but there were no immediate reports of casualties.

Residents of the Hollywood neighborhood said they were shaken by the quake, which lasted just a few seconds. Burglar alarms went off but there did not appear to be any damage in the area.

The temblor was initially estimated as a 4.7 magnitude by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), but later downgraded to 4.4.

“I was getting ready in the bathroom and all of a sudden I felt it jolt,” LA resident Yvonne Villanueva told the KTLA TV station, adding: “You always have the big one in the back of your head.”

The quake was centered 6 miles northwest of Beverly Hills and struck at 6:25 am.

“I woke up to feel the building swaying from side to side,” Wes Lashley told KTLA.

The quake came a week after a powerful 6.9-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of northern California, the biggest in years.

California has long braced for the “Big One.” The western state is on the so-called Ring of Fire, which circles the Pacific and has produced a number of devastating quakes including Japan’s March 2011 quake-tsunami, which killed thousands of people.

Geologists say a quake capable of causing widespread destruction is 99 percent certain of hitting California in the next 30 years.

A magnitude 7.8 quake could kill 1,800 people, injure 50,000 more and damage 300,000 buildings.

A 6.7-magnitude earthquake in Los Angeles left at least 60 people dead and did an estimated $10 billion damage in 1994, while a 6.9 quake in San Francisco in 1989 claimed the lives of 67 people.

AFP Photo/Frederick Florin

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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

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