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The quake, however, was in a very remote location with no paved roads nearby, so it was difficult to reach and the media needed to go on government transport.
Looking ahead, scientists are trying to predict when the next major quake will occur.
In 1994, a powerful quake caused $20 billion of damage and killed 58 people in the Los Angeles area.
We had tidal waves like that,'' in Los Angeles from the 1964 quake, said geography professor Tony Orme of the University of California, Los Angeles.
Between 1858 and 1906, for instance, 13 quakes with an estimated magnitude of 6.
Because of the regularity, researchers predicted the town would have a similarly large quake in 1988 - or anytime between 1983 and 1993.
9-magnitude quake hit Kobe, Japan, killing 5,100 people.
San Andreas' largest recent quakes occurred in 1906 and 1989, when the fault released huge amounts of pent-up pressure that ran beneath and along adjoining tectonic plates.
Then, they subjected the model to simulations of two earthquakes typical of past large quakes in the region--a magnitude 5.
According to Tubbesing, the gravest dangers now lie in older buildings that were built before the 1994 quake and other large quakes.
But as of now, no one can predict when and where quakes will happen.
New analyses of ground motions caused by large earthquakes suggest that it may be possible to estimate the full magnitude of such quakes immediately after they start rumbling.