Schwarzenegger declares California emergency

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared a state of emergency in a Californian county where two people died after an earthquake.

    The quake killed two and injured more than 40 people

    Schwarzenegger signed the emergency proclamation on Tuesday after

    meeting with officials in Paso Robles.

    He toured the town centre where a landmark two-storey clock tower and building collapsed, crushing two women who were standing outside.

    Small aftershocks rippled through the area on Tuesday

    morning, the largest coming 

    a day after the major quake struck at

    1916 GMT on Monday. 

    In addition to the two deaths, the magnitude 6.5

    earthquake injured more than 40 people, cut electricity to

    thousands, and shook houses and skyscrapers from San Francisco

    to Los Angeles.

    Quake damage

    A total of 82 commercial buildings in Paso Robles were

    declared unsafe by building inspectors on Tuesday, and

    inspection teams were continuing to

     examine the damage.

    Schwarzenegger has pledged to
    rebuild the shattered town

    The state emergency declaration provides funds for San Luis

    Obispo County to pay emergency workers, clear debris and repair

    damage to roads and power and sewage lines.

    Paso Robles Mayor Frank Mecham said the town would also

    seek federal disaster assistance, adding that officials may not

    know the full scope and cost of the damage for several days.

    Meanwhile, Schwarzenegger thanked

    emergency workers and pledged to rebuild the shattered business

    district. He warned the disaster was a lesson to other

    building owners who have not yet made their properties earthquake proof.

    "The greatest tragedy is that time will not undo the loss

    of life," Schwarzenegger told a crowd of emergency workers and

    citizens who turned out for a glimpse of the action

    star-turned-governor.

    Second disaster 

    "I want to give my heartfelt thanks to

    all the rescue workers. We have already begun the task of

    recovering and rebuilding."

    Looking at the crumpled building where the two women died,

    he evoked cheers by pledging "this will be your Main Street

    once again".

    The quake marks the second disaster Schwarzenegger has

    had to respond to since he was elected in October this year.

    As

    governor-elect he toured wildfire devastated neighbourhoods in

    Southern California with outgoing Governor Gray Davis.

    Monday's quake measured 6.5 on
    the Richter scale

    "A very important part of being governor is being in touch

    with communities, especially after a disaster," Schwarzenegger said. "I want to

    be the governor of the people."

    Aftershocks

    Schwarzenegger, a pro-business Republican, had pledged not

    to raise taxes to plug the state's budget deficit unless a

    natural disaster occurred.

    During his brief statement, Schwarzenegger urged

    Californians to "go and enjoy the holidays" despite the

    earthquake and the elevated terror risk announced earlier in

    the week by the Bush administration.

    Monday's quake was the strongest to hit California since

    1999, when a 7.1-magnitude temblor struck the state's southern

    desert.

    The US Geological Survey said the quake would produce

    hundreds of aftershocks over the next days, weeks and even

    years

    .

    SOURCE: Reuters


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