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Police patrol quake-damaged Calif. border town
Mexico Earthquake Heal
A church, damaged by Sunday's quake, is seen at La Puerta, outskirts of Mexicali, Mexico, Monday, April 5, 2010. The quake, centered just south of the U.S. border near Mexicali, was one of the strongest earthquakes to hit region in decades, shaking at least 20 million people - photo by Associated Press

CALEXICO, Calif. - Inspectors red-tagged nearly 80 percent of the city's historic downtown area Monday, where roofs were caved in, windows smashed and inventory strewn about after a deadly Easter earthquake in nearby Mexico.

Damage included three huge tanks that hold the city's water supply, as well as a 10 million gallon water clarifying tank, said City Manager Victor Carrillo.

City officials, under a state of emergency, asked residents to limit water use to essential bathing, cooking and washing.

Two people were killed and at least 100 injured near the epicenter of the magnitude-7.2 quake in Mexicali, just south of the border.

There were no injuries reported in Calexico, the U.S. city hardest hit by the quake, but in neighboring El Centro, someone was injured when hit in the head by a sign at a downtown car wash.

Philip Kim and his family spent much of the night picking up bottles of shampoo, lotion and beauty products at his Best Price beauty products store.

"It's a hard situation and sales were just picking up in March," Kim said, adding that 90 percent of his customers were from Mexicali and he was worried they wouldn't be coming back for awhile.

The downtown area is made up primarily of discount and 99-cent type stores.

The quake could be devastating for the economy of Imperial County, which already has the highest unemployment rate in the state, said Hildy Carrillo, executive director of the Calexico Chamber of Commerce.

"It will be months before downtown is back. It's a mess," she said.

Sal Farah, 62, spent the night in his 50-year-old, downtown Yturralde Furniture store, fearing it could be looted since the giant storefront windows were knocked out by the quake.

"I didn't get much sleep, especially in the morning when it shook hard again," Farah said, standing in the store littered by broken vases, lamps and shattered knickknacks.

They planned to board up the windows later Monday.

Scientists measured about 100 aftershocks early Monday, said seismologist Kate Hutton at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Statistically, there will be one aftershock of around 6.0 and perhaps 10 of 5.0 or larger, she said.

The initial earthquake downed three power lines in Calexico, a gas leak forced a brief evacuation of about 30 homes, and residents were removed from a senior living center built in the early 1900s. Electricity was out for hours in the city's southeast area.

The U.S damage appeared to be limited to California's southeastern Imperial Valley in what was one of the strongest earthquakes to hit the region in decades. The shaking was felt hundreds of miles away in Phoenix and Las Vegas.


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