Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell is calling the March 5 earthquake “an extremely large earthquake” and is working with the federal government to determine if a massive earthquake can be caused by a tsunami.
McDonnell told reporters Thursday that a tsunami could be triggered by a “significant earthquake” that hit the Pacific coast.
McDonnell said the county is working closely with the U.S. Geological Survey to determine whether a tsunami triggered by the quake is possible.
McDonnell, whose office is based in San Diego, told reporters that his deputies have been working closely since March 4, when the county began evacuating residents.
He said that he and his deputies had received hundreds of calls and emails from residents who were concerned about possible tsunamis, but had not been able to determine how widespread they were.
McDonnell stressed that “the response we’ve received from the federal authorities is extraordinary and we’re working with them to determine the extent of the damage.”
The sheriff said he was in contact with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
McDonnell also said that deputies are working to determine what caused the quake, and how much damage there was to structures in the county.
The county has received thousands of calls about possible tsunami damage since the quake hit, McDonnell said.
“We have to determine where the tsunami is coming from and what’s causing it,” McDonnell said, according to a statement from the sheriff’s office.
McDonnell added that he is still awaiting information from the U:S.
Department of Homeland Security about whether the agency will be able to help with the search for survivors.
He added that it was not known if there were any tsunami alerts, which would be critical for rescue efforts.
“I know there’s going to be an emergency,” McDonnell told ABC News.
“The question is, are we prepared to go there?”
McDonnell said that while he has received calls from some concerned residents who are concerned about the potential damage, “I’m not going to let that deter us.”