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San Francisco Bay Area earthquake 31 years later: A look back

Updated October 19, 2020 - 8:12 am

On Oct. 17, 1989, a magnitude 6.9 earthquake hit the San Francisco Bay Area, killing 67 people.

It was the most powerful earthquake to rattle California since the deadly 8.3 quake of 1906 that killed more than 3,000 and leveled much of San Francisco.

That quake lasted up to 60 seconds, according to news accounts. The 1989 quake lasted only 10 to 15 but caused more than $5 billion in damage.

The quake struck at 5:04 p.m. during rush-hour traffic and as the nation was settling in to watch Game 3 of the World Series between the San Francisco Giants and cross-bay rival Oakland Athletics.

Former Review-Journal columnists Royce Feour and Norm Clarke were at Candlestick Park that night and shared memories of what happened.

According to the California Department of Conservation, “the epicenter was on the San Andreas fault roughly 56 miles south of San Francisco and 10 miles northeast of Santa Cruz, near Mt. Loma Prieta in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

The earthquake was felt as far away as western Nevada.

Now, more than 30 years later, the earthquake is just a footnote in history as the anniversary passed this weekend with nary a remembrance of the physical and psychological toll it took on the Bay Area.

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