A powerful 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck southern California near the town of Ridgecrest, about 200 miles northeast of Los Angeles, the United States Geological Survey said on Thursday.
 The USGS said the earthquake, initially reported as magnitude 6.6, occurred close to the surface, which would have amplified its effect.
  The tremor, which was felt even in Los Angeles, was quickly followed by several minor tremors in the area.
 California is on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, and is prone to earthquakes.
 Authorities in the Ridgecrest area could not immediately be reached for comment.

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