Emergency sirens part of statewide drill

Yes, that was the emergency siren. No, there was not a disaster.

San Francisco tests its emergency-warning system each Tuesday at noon. But today at 10:15 the alarms and following message were tested as a part of a larger statewide earthquake drill.

Millions of people throughout California signed up to take part in the earthquake disaster drill billed as the largest such exercise in U.S. history.

Many schools and businesses on Thursday will practice “drop, cover and hold on” — the minimum requirement for participation. Some hospitals and fire departments will stage more elaborate simulations complete with search-and-rescue missions and people posing as faux quake victims.

Some 6.7 million people have pledged to take part, according to organizers.

Last year, the state held its first large-scale quake preparedness drill, focusing on Southern California. Some 5.5 million around the region participated, from school children ducking under their desks to firefighters doing medical triage.

After last year's drill, organized decided to hold one every year.

This year's exercise occurs during the same week as the 20th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake that killed 63 people, collapsed a major freeway, and caused nearly $6 billion in damage around the Bay Area. The magnitude-6.9 temblor struck before the start of the third game of the 1989 World Series.

California, one of the most seismically active states in the country, faces a 46 percent chance of being hit by a 7.5 or larger earthquake in the next 30 years, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The last temblor to cause significant damage in California was the 1994 Northridge disaster.

The drill is sponsored by the Earthquake Country Alliance, made of up USGS, state Emergency Management Agency, American Red Cross and others.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
 

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