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Boston Weather: 9.0°F | A Few Clouds

Los Angeles Inventories Wounds

By William Hamilton and Christine Spolar
The Washington Post


A city buffeted in recent years by riots and wildfires struggled Tuesday to recover from a calamity whose consequences were barely becoming clear, given the number of homeless residents and potential transportation chaos.

At least 34 people were killed as a result of the predawn quake Monday, and more than 1,800 people were reported injured. An estimated 15,000 were homeless, many camping in city parks because they were afraid to return home as hundreds of aftershocks continued to rock the area.

About 95,000 people were without electricity, and as many as 100,000 houses had no water after the worst temblor here in 23 years. No accurate estimate was immediately available on the number of buildings damaged.

But with hundreds of thousands of commuters heeding appeals by city officials to stay home, the full impact on the disrupted highway system was partially cushioned. An indication of trouble to come was a massive traffic jam Tuesday around Interstate 5, which is California's main north-south route and was partially closed when the quake flattened overpasses and buckled pavement.

State transportation officials said that, with federal financial help, they hope to repair broken freeways by the end of this year, a significantly more optimistic outlook than was voiced on Monday.

"Our goal is to do it, and we're using what happened with the Bay Bridge as our example," said Jim Drago, press secretary for the California Department of Transportation. The Bay Bridge, two sections of which collapsed during the Loma Prieta quake near San Francisco in October 1989, was restored to operation within a month under an emergency plan, he said.

Drago had no dollar estimate for repair work expected after Monday's quake.

Tuesday, crews were tearing down collapsed portions of Interstate 10, the city's main east-west artery.