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No Major Earthquake Damage

LOS ANGELES - A magnitude-7.2 earthquake just across the border in Mexico rocked buildings from Los Angeles to Phoenix on Sunday, but there were no reports of major damage.

The quake struck at 3:40 p.m. Pacific time in Baja California, Mexico, about 16 miles southwest of the town of Guadalupe Victoria.

U.S. officials said they were still trying to get reports of potential damage near the center of the quake. Its center was 108 miles east of Tijuana, Mexico, just across the border from San Diego.

Robert Valadez of El Centro, Calif., said the earthquake woke him from his afternoon sleep before he was to go to work at a 7-Eleven store.

"Everything fell down," said Valadez, a cashier. "My TV's broken right now, my computer fell down. All the cabinets, the doors opened and all the cups and everything from the cabinets, everything is broken."

Arizona State University student Kari McBride, 20, who works at St. Joseph's Medical Center in Phoenix, said the quake shook the pediatric intensive care unit.

"You could feel the entire building shaking," she said. "There were IV bags jittering on the poles and the floor was moving." The children at the hospital were confused but not scared, she said.

Cal Tech seismologist Egill Hauksson said the quake appeared to have been centered 6 miles underground. He said scientists had not yet identified which of an array of fault lines was involved.

Scientists were hampered by the lack of U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) earthquake sensors south of the border with Mexico and were using computers to analyze data from U.S.-based sensors. Hauksson said computer analysis suggested "severe to violent" shaking strong enough to cause major damage within 20 miles of the center.

Sara Hernandez, 47, of Imperial, Calif., was eating a late Easter lunch outside at her parents' home in Calipatria, about 25 miles to the north of Imperial, when the party of 15 people felt the ground rumble and sway.

"My dad's truck was swaying form side to side, you could see it bouncing off the ground," Hernandez said. Her father's pre-fabricated carport was "literally bouncing off the ground."

In Tijuana, city spokeswoman Maricarmen Viera said there were no reports of injuries or death but that the quake caused cracks in some buildings including City Hall.

Four people were rescued when they were trapped in a hotel elevator, and some electrical lines were down.

"Other than that, we've seen no damage," Viera said. "This was a strong one, but fortunately we've never had a really devastating earthquake in Tijuana."

Photographs posted on Twitter showed damage to buildings in Mexicali, just north of the earthquake center, and a gash that had opened across a city street.

More than two dozen smaller quakes were recorded in the hours after the 7.2 quake, including some as large as 5.4 magnitude in the California desert areas near the Mexican border. A small quake in Northern California, near Santa Rosa, was not related, the USGS said.

The quake was one of the strongest felt in Southern California in decades and stirred memories of 1994's magnitude-6.7 earthquake at Northridge in the San Fernando Valley. That quake did extensive damage, and at least 60 people were killed.

(Contributing: Chris Woodyard; Chris Hawley in Mexico City; Oren Dorell in McLean, Va.; The Arizona Republic)

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