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Los Angeles Showcases Earthquake Warning Application ‘ShakeAlertLA’

The long-delayed system, called ShakeAlertLA, is the first of its kind in the United States.

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The long-delayed system, called ShakeAlertLA, is the first of its kind in the United States. VOA

California is earthquake country, and residents of Los Angeles can now get some critical warning, when conditions are right, after a quake has started and seismic waves are heading their way.

The long-delayed system, called ShakeAlertLA, is the first of its kind in the United States.

Earthquake alert systems like this save lives, said Jeff Gorell, deputy Los Angeles mayor for public safety, as he demonstrated the application on his smartphone.

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A mobile phone customer looks at an earthquake warning application on their phone in Los Angeles, Jan. 3, 2019. The app, called ShakeAlertLA, is available for download on Android and Apple phones. VOA

“When an earthquake starts, the first waves that go out are called P-waves,” he said. They serve as a warning and “are not the damaging, destructive waves” that will follow.

The alert system, which relies on data from seismic sensors throughout the region, could offer up to 90 seconds of warning for quakes of magnitude 5 or larger.

Even a few seconds can make a difference, said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, as he rolled out the ShakeAlertLA smartphone app in January. Alerts let people know to drop, cover and hold on, as they are instructed to do in earthquakes.

Mexico City system

An alert system is in place in Mexico City that let residents brace for a mild shaker in early February after an earthquake struck Chiapas to the south. The quake was barely felt in the capital, but residents were ready.

The system doesn’t always help, however, and it did not with the magnitude 7.1 earthquake on Sept. 19, 2017, that killed hundreds in and around the Mexican capital. The quake’s epicenter was too close to offer warning.

Distance to epicenter crucial

Alert systems work when there’s enough distance between the earthquake’s epicenter and a center of population, said Thomas Heaton, professor of engineering seismology at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

“So, if you can recognize that an earthquake has started … you can give some area that’s about to be shaken strongly a heads up that says, ‘There’s an ongoing earthquake, and oh, by the way, it’s headed in your direction.’”

California is riddled with geological fault lines that periodically rupture. The largest, the San Andreas Fault, can give rise to massive temblors, including the San Francisco quake in 1906, which may have killed 3,000, according to later estimates.

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FILE – California State University, Northridge students walk past a parking structure at the Los Angeles campus that collapsed 25 years ago in the Jan. 17, 1994, earthquake. VOA

A section of the same fault shifted in 1989, causing a magnitude 6.9 earthquake that killed more than 60 in Oakland and nearby communities. Smaller fault lines can also cause large temblors, including a previously unknown fault beneath the Northridge section of Los Angeles, where a magnitude 6.7 quake killed more than 60 people in 1994.

The ShakeAlertLA app offers users critical information after a temblor has started, said Deputy Mayor Gorell, “just enough so that they can digest it and then react to it, without overwhelming them with information or frightening them,” he said.

Advanced alert systems are also in place in Japan, and while the systems have limitations, authorities there say they have saved lives.

Los Angeles officials say preparing for earthquakes requires work on many fronts, including encouraging residents to prepare disaster plans and stock emergency supplies.

Preparations also require upgrades to old buildings. Los Angeles now has nearly 13,000 so-called soft-story buildings, with wide windows or doors on lower floors that need bracing. These buildings are vulnerable to damage or collapse if struck by seismic waves of a certain type or intensity.

Nearly 1,700 buildings have been upgraded to modern earthquake standards, and another 3,500 have been issued permits for retrofitting. It’s a race against time, officials say, because massive shakers rock the region periodically. The last big quake in Southern California, in 1857, reached magnitude 7.9, and could have killed thousands in a modern city.

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A mobile phone customer looks at an earthquake warning application on their phone in Los Angeles, Jan. 3, 2019. Los Angeles has released the app that could give county residents precious seconds to drop, cover and hold on in the event of a quake. VOA

The alert app can help, said Heaton, who noted that when the ground “starts to shake, you have no idea whether it’s going to get bigger, or whether it will stay small. Usually it stays small,” he said, “but you don’t know.”

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Heaton said the system will give you an indication of what to expect, and also let emergency workers know where to send help after a quake has struck.

ShakeAlertLA is being rolled out in phases in the U.S. West coast states of California, Oregon and Washington, which are all vulnerable to earthquakes. (VOA)

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Three of the World’s Best Land Based Casinos

Know about some of the best casinos

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These three casinos are probably the best worldwide, so they must sit at the top of the list when planning a trip abroad. Pixabay

Three of the world’s best land based casinos. Online casinos have pretty much won the battle with their land-based counterparts, but the latter continue to thrive in certain places. Major gambling hubs continue to attract people from all over the world, with cities such as Las Vegas, Macau and Monte Carlo being shining examples. Not surprisingly, some of the world’s best land-based casinos can be found in these cities, with some exceptions. These three casinos are probably the best worldwide, so they must sit at the top of the list when planning a trip abroad.

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Sin City is famous for its amazing casinos and it is the undisputed leader in the world of land-based gambling. (Representational Image). Pixabay

Aria Casino in Las Vegas

Sin City is famous for its amazing casinos and it is the undisputed leader in the world of land-based gambling. There are dozens of amazing casinos scattered across The Strip and citywide, with new ones opening their doors every year. The Aria Casino which is similar to Conquer Casino Canada and resort stands out from the crowd as the biggest, most beautiful and the most expensive casino ever built. It is a huge place where players are guaranteed to find the most amazing games, exceptional entertainment and some of the best restaurants in the city. Their casino is one of the few that have natural light, something that is truly a rarity in this, otherwise, glowing city. Even though it is the newest casino in town, it already attracts huge crowds and it is expected to be the most popular casino in Las Vegas for many years to come.

Casino Baden-Baden in Germany

Germany is not the first country that comes to mind when people think about gambling, even though there are a couple of cool casinos nationwide. One particular place stands out from the crowd, the amazing casino of Baden Baden.

Casinos
Germany is not the first country that comes to mind when people think about gambling, even though there are a couple of cool casinos nationwide. (Representational Image). Pixabay

It was built centuries ago and it is inspired by the Palace of Versailles near Paris, so players can expect the utmost luxury. In the 19th century, it acted as a magnet for rich people from all over Europe, especially members of the French aristocracy. This casino is dripping in gold and it crosses the threshold separating casinos from art galleries and museums. Casual outfits are not accepted, but given the sheer luxury of this place, visitors are encouraged to put their best clothes on.

City of Dreams Casino in Macau, China

The city of Macau is Las Vegas’ biggest rival and in some regards it has already surpassed its North American counterpart. It is a place where luxury casinos are abundant and visitors have plenty of options regardless of bankroll and games of choice.

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The City of Dreams is perhaps the best casino to visit when you are in town and in the mood for gambling. It is one of the most luxurious casinos on the Cotai Strip, with more than 1000 slot machines, high-stakes card games and roulette. The City of Dreams has its own luxury hotel, with 1400 suites and it is conveniently located close to all the important city attractions.