Topic – Earthquake!

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Read the two reports about an earthquake in California in 1989. The first report is by someone who experienced the earthquake. The second report is a news report by someone who did not experience the earthquake.

Report 1: Caught in an Earthquake

I had left work a little earlier than usual and was at the mall, browsing in a store. Suddenly there was a huge bang, followed by the most incredible noise, like hundreds of airplanes flying overhead. I had no idea what was happening. I did not even think about an earthquake, but then everything started shaking. Lights hanging from the ceiling were swaying, and things started falling off the store shelves. I was so startled that for a second I just froze. Then the lights went out.

I realized that it was an earthquake and I wanted to get out of the mall fast. Everyone in the mall started rushing to get outside. It is really hard to walk or run when the floor is shaking, it is dark, and everyone is in a panic to get out. I do not know if people were shouting or screaming because there was so much other noise. The earth kept rumbling, windows were breaking, and the whole building was making loud creaking sounds.

By the time I got outside, the rumbling and shaking had stopped. I sat down on the ground. At first, there was just silence. All these people who had rushed out of the mall were standing around completely silent. I guess we were all so astonished by what had happened. Next, a child started crying, then there was more crying, people shouting, lots of noise.

I started walking to my home a few blocks away. The streets were full of people because nobody wanted to be indoors. Everyone was in shock and sidewalks were covered with broken glass. Some older buildings had collapsed into piles of rubble. The sidewalk was all broken up and I kept tripping. I was so relieved to discover that my home was not destroyed.

Report 2: Earthquake Rocks San Francisco Area

A powerful earthquake lasting about 15 seconds hit California yesterday. Nine people have been reported killed and hundreds of injured people crowded hospital emergency rooms. One bridge and a raised section of highway collapsed during the earthquake.

The number of people killed and injured is expected to rise as rescuers search collapsed buildings. Thousands of people have been left homeless because their homes collapsed or are now too badly damaged to enter.

Many communities were left without power, which caused traffic jams after traffic lights stopped working. Traffic problems could have been much worse, since the quake hit at 5:04 p.m. when many people are normally on their way home from work. However, officials believe that many had left work early to watch the World Series baseball game scheduled at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park. Some fans waiting at the stadium for the game to start were thrown from their seats when the earthquake struck.

Ambulance workers report that most of the people they have treated are suffering from shock and cuts. Some city streets are littered with bricks and shards of broken glass, which will take days for city workers to clean up.

Buildings and roadways in California are supposed to be constructed to survive a powerful earthquake. California experiences thousands of earthquakes every year, but most are so weak that they pass unnoticed.

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