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6.0 earthquake jolts California wine region

August 25, 2014 08:50 IST

6.0 earthquake jolts California wine region

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Ritu Jha

Known to be the strongest earthquake in the area in the past 25 years, the quake has injured hundreds of people, damaged buildings and homes and affected the wine business in the area. Ritu Jha reports

In the wee hours of Sunday, Americans living in the restive state of California were awakened by a 6.1-magnitude earthquake. The quake, strongest in the area in the past 25 years, injured hundreds of people and has also damaged the wine business that flourishes in the area.

Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency for the southern NapaCounty, directing state agencies to respond with equipment and personnel. In a statement, he said, “My office of emergency services has been on full activation since early this morning and is working closely with state and local emergency managers, first responders and transportation officials to respond to impacts to residents and critical infrastructure. These public safety officials are doing all they can to help residents and those living in affected areas should follow their guidance and instruction.”

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Image: Damage to a downtown building is seen after an earthquake in Napa, California.
Photographs: Stephen Lam/Reuters

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According to the United States Geological Survey, the earthquake occurred 6.7 miles below the surface with an epicenter just south of Napa and about 30 miles northeast of San Francisco. This is the strongest earthquake felt by the region in 25 years.

Indian-origin Raj Patel, owner and founder of Patel Wine, in Napa Valley and one of the pioneer Indian-American to get into the winery business told Rediff.com, “Initial assessments show some damage, though not much.”

He added that wine barrels, which had been stacked on top of each other, had fallen to the floor. However, he further said, “The 2012 Chardonnay is safe as they were carefully packed into boxes, as they were being moved to another location.”

“This is the first time we have seen such an earthquake in Napa,” said Patel, as they were still trying to determine the actual damage. “It’s a complete shock to us, because once there is damage to the wine, we can not salvage it.”

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Image: Raj Patel's barrel room after the earthquake. There are 55 plus barrels are in this room, this is one of three barrel rooms and is the smallest of all three


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Patel further added that the timing of the tragedy was unfortunate. “The timing of it couldn’t be worse. It’s the middle of production period at this point. We are just getting started, this is the start of the peak season. What happened is not good for business,” added the wine maker, who started his company in 2006.

“The earthquake has caused extensive damage to the roads, making mobility a challenge. Additionally, with no power, the wines, which need to be kept in a controlled environment, will also be affected.”

Harpal Singh, a priest at Fairfield Sikh, 15 miles from Napa Valley, said they were lucky, “We felt the jolt, but we are safe. The temple is 15 miles of the epicenter of the Napa,” said Singh.

The major affected areas are Napa, Solano, and Sonoma counties. There have been no deaths reported so far, but over 100 people have been rushed to the Napa Hospital.

The quake has also caused extensive damage to numerous buildings, including the highway foundation near the city of Vallejo. In many parts, residents have to survive without lights and gas.


Image: A car damaged by bricks falling during an earthquake is seen next to a downtown building in Napa, California
Photographs: Stephen Lam/Reuters

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