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Schwarzenegger views quake damage

Governor declares state of emergency

Schwarzenegger thanks rescue workers while checking out quake damage Tuesday in Paso Robles.
Schwarzenegger thanks rescue workers while checking out quake damage Tuesday in Paso Robles.

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CNN's Frank Buckley reports on the quake that killed two in California.
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Rescue workers search for casualties in a quake-damaged building.
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Ross Stein of the U.S. Geological Survey says the quake hit a sparsely populated area.
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U.S. Geological Survey
Monuments and Heritage Sites

PASO ROBLES, California (CNN) -- California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger visited Paso Robles on Tuesday to view the earthquake devastation and declare a state of emergency in San Luis Obispo County.

Two people died in the collapse of a historic building in the central California town as the earthquake rippled up and down the state's coast about 11:15 a.m. (2:15 p.m. ET) Monday. At least 50 people were injured.

Schwarzenegger offered his "heartfelt thanks to all the rescue workers" who searched the rubble for victims.

"Today this is a site of devastation," Schwarzenegger said, " but we will come together once again as Californians and as neighbors."

The quake registered a preliminary magnitude of 6.5 when it hit, according to the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, near San Francisco.

The earthquake's epicenter was about six miles northeast of San Simeon, a coastal town about 240 miles north of Los Angeles and 200 miles south of San Francisco. The quake occurred at the relatively shallow depth of about five miles and was felt across a wide swath of the state.

The governor cautioned that the damage would probably take years to repair.

He also offered some positive news, reporting that power had been restored by Tuesday morning to about half of the 110,000 people who had been in the dark since the quake.

Aftershocks continued throughout the day, with a magnitude 4.6 tremor shaking the area just minutes before Schwarzenegger began touring the damage.

Cleanup work was delayed until Schwarzenegger could get a first-hand look at the debris, and building inspectors warned residents and business owners to steer clear of any damaged structures.

The inspectors planned to evaluate the structural integrity of more than 50 buildings.

U.S. Geological Survey spokesman Ross Stein said Tuesday that the damage could have been worse if the area were more populated.

"It is an isolated area -- the Hearst Castle is probably the best-known structure out here -- and because of that there were really no tall buildings that were strongly shaken or major structures that were influenced," Stein said.

A rescue worker walks past a collapsed building in Paso Robles.
A rescue worker walks past a collapsed building in Paso Robles.

"Earthquakes of this type and size do great damage when they occur in densely populated areas" because of the shaking they do, he added.

Geologists and seismologists went to the affected area to search for breaks in the ground that would identify the fault zone and to set up recorders to capture aftershocks.

"We expect that it will be several days before we have more definitive information about the earthquake," Bill Ellsworth, chief scientist of the USGS earthquake hazards team, said Monday.

In Paso Robles, about 30 miles inland, Jennifer Murick, 19, of Atascadero, and Marilyn Zafuto, 55, of Paso Robles, were killed by falling debris from the collapse of the city's landmark clock tower, police said.

The tower was on a corner of a two-story building constructed in 1892. It was across from a municipal park and housed a jewelry store, said Madelyn Stemper, an accountant at a nearby office.

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