Sunday's 7.2 Earthquake Named 'Sierra El Mayor;' Mexican President Says Third Death Possible

Caltech and the U.S. Geological Survey have come up with a name for Sunday's 7.2 shaker felt throughout the Southwest: The Sierra El Mayor earthquake. It was named for the mountain range near the temblor's epicenter on the Laguna Saluda fault.

The news came late Monday as Mexican Felipe Calderon visited the city hardest hit by the shaker, Mexicali, and announced that a possible third fatality in the area -- the victim of a heart attack -- was left in the wake of the temblor, according to La Cronica newspaper.

"According to the data, it is the most intense earthquake ever recorded in Baja California, at least as we have on record," the Mexican president said. "And to give us an idea of the intensity, it was an earthquake as severe as that which struck the city of Port au Prince, Haiti."

Mexicali-based La Cronica reported that at least 430 aftershocks have hit the area following the quake, which was centered about 40 miles south of the industrial region of more than 1 million people.

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Meanwhile the Southern California Seismic Network reports that foreshocks to the quake felt by 20 million people in SoCal and beyond began as early as March 22. The network also concludes it was the biggest such shaker in the Baja California region since 1940, when the 6.9 Imperial Valley quake hit. The next biggest temblor for the Laguna Salada was in 1892 with another 7.2, according to the network.

The area contains a series of faults that help separate the North American and northward-bound Pacific plates.


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