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Loma Prieta earthquake

The Loma Prieta earthquake occurred on October 17, 1989 in the greater San Francisco Bay Area in California at 5:04 pm local time and measured 7.1 on the Richter scale. The earthquake lasted for fifteen seconds. Its epicenter was at 37.04 N latitude, 121.88 W longitude near Loma Prieta Peak in the Santa Cruz Mountains, about seven miles northeast of the town of Santa Cruz, California, in the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park.

Portion of the collapsed Cypress structure in Oakland. ()

This was a major earthquake which caused severe damage as far as 70 miles away - most notably in San Francisco, Oakland, and the San Francisco Peninsula. Severe damage occurred closer to the epicenter in the communities of Santa Cruz, Watsonville, and Los Gatos.


Collapsed section of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.
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There were at least 63 deaths and 3,757 injuries as a result of this earthquake. The highest concentration of fatalities occurred in the collapse of the Cypress structure on the Nimitz Highway (Interstate 880), where a double-decker portion of the freeway collapsed, crushing the cars on the lower deck. One 50-foot section of the Bay Bridge also collapsed, causing one car to fall to the deck below and the only casualty on the bridge. The bridge was closed for repairs for a month and one day, reopening on November 18. While the bridge was closed, ridership on BART soared.

Because this quake occurred during the evening rush hour, there were a large number of cars on the freeways at the time. Extensive damage also occurred in San Francisco's Marina District, where many expensive homes built on filled ground collapsed. Fires raged in some sections of the city as water mains broke. Power was cut to most of San Francisco and was not fully restored for several days.

Deaths in Santa Cruz occurred when brick storefronts in the historic downtown (what was then called the Pacific Garden Mall) tumbled down on people exiting the buildings.

The quake also caused an estimated $6 billion in property damage, the most costly natural disaster in U.S. history at the time. It was the largest earthquake to occur on the San Andreas Fault since the great San Francisco earthquake in April 1906. Private donations poured in to aid relief efforts and on October 26, President Bush signed a $3.45 billion earthquake relief package for California.

1989 World Series

The earthquake had been predicted in the morning edition of the San Jose Mercury News in Kevin Cowherd's column. He was discussing the fact that the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants were playing each other in the World Series at Candlestick Park that day. The quote from his column read: "... these are two teams from California and God only knows if they'll even get all the games in. An earthquake could rip through the Bay Area before they sing the national anthem for Game 3," - which was precisely when the quake occurred. The game was called and the Series was postponed for 10 days.

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