A White House official said the United States will send thousands of troops to help contain a magnitude-6.1 earthquake near the Mexican border that officials have warned could kill hundreds if not thousands of people.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to publicly discuss the matter, said President Barack Obama will meet Wednesday with state governors and other officials to coordinate preparations for the quake and other potential impacts.
Obama will urge the states to work with FEMA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to deploy resources, including ground-based assets, to prepare, the official said.
If the earthquake strikes, it could bring down power lines, roads, bridges, water systems and other infrastructure in several states, including California, which is home to many of the nation’s largest cities.
FEMA has dispatched teams to assist California and has been working with state and local officials, the administration official said Wednesday.
The official said officials expect the quake will be centered about 80 miles (130 kilometers) east of San Diego and is expected to be the strongest to hit the country since a magnitude 4.3 quake in 2011 killed about 1,800 people.
There have been no deaths from a magnitude 6.2 quake in Alaska that occurred in March.
A U.N. official said Monday that the U