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A magnitude-5.6 earthquake shook the San Francisco Bay area Tuesday night, rattling homes and nerves, but there were no immediate reports of serious damage or injuries.
The moderate temblor struck shortly after 8 p.m., about 9 miles northeast of San Jose, according to the US Geological Survey. Residents reported feeling the quake as far east as Sacramento and as far north as Sonoma.
The California Highway Patrol has received no reports of damage or injuries, spokesman Tom Marshall said.
It was the strongest tremor in the Bay Area since 1989, when a magnitude-7.1 quake killed 62 people.
The epicenter of the quake was near Alum Rock, in the Diablo Range foothills east of San Jose - not far from the home of San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed.
Pictures fell off the walls of Reed's house, but the mayor said there was no major damage there.
"It was a pretty strong ride here, a lot of shaking but nothing broken," Reed told The Associated Press in a phone interview from his home. "I've talked to a few people and we have no reports of injuries or damage. There was a lot of shaking, but it wasn't the big one."
Amrit Shergill, a night cashier at Alum Rock Shell gasoline station in San Jose, said there was no damage other than some small items that toppled off a shelf - but the intensity of the shaking sent her outside and crouching on the sidewalk.
"My God, I felt like running because the roof might come down on my head," said Shergill, who was born in India. "I've never felt anything like this in 16 years in the United States."
Rod Foo, a resident of south San Jose, about 10 miles from the epicenter, said everything in his house shook for several seconds, but the electricity never went out and his telephone was still working.
"I could hear it coming up the street before it hit the house," said Foo, a former reporter with the San Jose Mercury News. "I thought it was the kids messing around at first, then I felt the house shaking and I knew it was an earthquake. ... It was rattling for a long time and really loud."
The USGS reported 10 aftershocks, the biggest with a preliminary magnitude of 2.1.
In downtown San Jose, the quake caused a pipe to break, streaming water into the parking garage of a condo building, according to the Mercury News.
An employee at Beverages and More, a liquor store in Milpitas, a few miles from the epicenter, reported a few broken wine bottles.
Allison Guimard, 25, a technology executive who lives in Mountain View, about 18 miles west of the epicenter, said her china started shaking and she grabbed her dog. It was the first significant earthquake for Guimard and her husband, Pierre, who moved here from New York six months ago.
"It felt like the apartment was rolling - shaking and rolling," said Pierre Guimard, 25, a home entertainment installer. "Almost like a boat on the water."
Bob Redding, a dispatcher at the California Highway Patrol dispatch center in the Central Valley town of Atwater, 70 miles east of the epicenter, said the office had received calls from numerous locations in the valley, but CHP had received no reports of injuries.
"When it first hit, we thought a truck might have hit our building," Redding said. "But it was just one jerk."
A representative of Caltrain, which runs light rail between Silicon Valley and San Francisco, said all trains were stopped as soon as the earthquake hit, and they've been running at restricted speeds ever since. There were no reports of injuries or other problems. The trains were expected to remain in service until midnight.
A spokesman for the Bay Area Rapid Transit District, which runs underground and aboveground trains throughout the region, said all trains were stopped soon after 8 p.m. for five minutes. Train operators were then instructed to run trains at half their normal speed, and look out the windows and perform track inspections at every stop.
"There's no damage so far and we're not anticipating any," said BART spokesman Linton Johnson. He said trains were running five to seven minutes behind schedule but were expected to get back on schedule later Tuesday evening.
The magnitude-7.1 quake in October 1989 struck just before the third game of the World Series at Candlestick Park. The quake, centered in the Santa Cruz Mountains on the San Andreas fault, caused nearly $3 billion in damage.
Aaron McLear, a spokesman for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, said the state would "will review and inspect all important infrastructure," including levees in the coming days.
Earthquakes powerful enough to be felt through the Central Valley have been of increasing concern since Hurricane Katrina because of their potential to weaken the earthen levees that channel rivers throughout the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.