The Nation: Terror in Los Angeles

THE dawn promised a placid day: the first rays of a sun that would warm the Los Angeles basin to a summery 82° glimmered in the east. Then, at 41 seconds past 6, the earth rocked, jolting 10 million Southern Californians awake—and into instant wonderment or terror.

Oceanside residents rushed to seaward windows, fearing a tidal wave; they heard only distant foghorns. Hill dwellers peered down at the San Fernando Valley and were shocked at the sight of fiery blue arcs rising from electrical explosions and plumes of water erupting from broken mains. On...

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