Aftershocks continue to rattle central Oklahoma

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by JUSTIN JUOZAPAVICIUS

Associated Press

Posted on November 7, 2011 at 10:26 AM

Updated Saturday, Nov 9 at 3:30 AM

Oklahoma earthquakes

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TULSA, Okla. (AP) — More aftershocks rattled central Oklahoma on Monday in the wake of a 5.6 magnitude weekend earthquake, the strongest yet in a state that has seen a dramatic, unexplained increase in seismic activity.

The U.S. Geological Survey had recorded at least five tremors by Monday afternoon, the strongest being a 3.4 magnitude quake near Prague, located about 80 miles west of Tulsa.

Damage reports continued to come into the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management, with the bulk from Lincoln, Pottawatomie, Creek and Okfuskee counties.

Damage ranged from cracks in the walls of homes across the area to a bridge in Okfuskee County awaiting inspection by an engineer, spokeswoman Keli Cain said. State officials didn't yet have an estimate for the total damage, and said it could take several more days to compile one.

"It's kind of hard because earthquakes are different for our area, we're not used to having quakes strong enough that they would do any damage," Cain said. "It looks different than a tornado.

"We get out after tornados and we expect to see roof damage and things like that, but quake damage can look different," she said.

Joey Wakefield, director of emergency management in hard-hit Lincoln County, said about 40 homes had been damaged by the quake.

"It's chimneys falling, brick walls falling in, doors aren't closing," Wakefield said Monday. "It's been nonstop."

Oklahoma typically had about 50 earthquakes a year until 2009. Then the number spiked, and 1,047 quakes shook the state last year.

The biggest earthquake hit Saturday night centered near Sparks, and could be felt throughout the state and in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, northern Texas and some parts of Illinois and Wisconsin. Geologists believe a magnitude 4.7 earthquake Saturday morning was a foreshock to the bigger one that followed that night.

State Rep. Mike Shelton said Monday that lawmakers needed to review disaster preparedness and response policies because of the increasing number and severity of quakes in Oklahoma. Shelton said he would host a January meeting shortly before the start of the legislative session, focusing on the factors leading to the increase, whether the state can expect more of the same in the future, the potential severity of future quakes and how citizens should prepare.

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