USA: What a major earthquake would do to San Francisco

Source(s): SFGate, San Francisco Chronicle, Hearst Communications Inc.
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By Kimberly Veklerov

A repeat of the most powerful earthquake in San Francisco’s history would knock out phone communications, leave swaths of the city in the dark, cut off water to neighborhoods and kill up to 7,800 people, according to state and federal projections.

If a quake like that were to strike along the San Andreas Fault today, building damage would eclipse $98 billion and tens of thousands of residents would become homeless.

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Building codes have improved dramatically since 1906, of course — engineers now must design flexible, fire-resistant structures that can withstand horizontal forces. Researchers also have made key earthquake science discoveries, and emergency response procedures today are far more sophisticated.

But the Bay Area’s population has increased tenfold over the last century, and with more humans come more sources of vulnerability: water-treatment facilities, petroleum refineries, chemical plants and critical infrastructure, like the Transbay Tube that runs beneath the bay. Beyond shaking the ground, powerful earthquakes can set secondary disasters in motion: fires, tsunamis and hazardous material releases.

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Hazards Earthquake
Country and region United States of America
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