UK & World News
Global Earthquake Drill: Millions Take Part
Millions of people around the world will duck under their desks as they take part in a global earthquake drill.
Nearly 10 million people in California alone have signed up to the exercise, which is designed to cut quake deaths and improve response times of rescuers.
The drill will take place at 10.17am West Coast time (6.17pm UK time), with another 14 million people joining in at the same moment in quake-prone regions across the globe.
Participants will be instructed to duck under their desks, cover their heads and hold on to something sturdy.
Drill organisers said this year's focus will be on fires that may be sparked by broken gas pipes and power lines after a quake.
In Los Angeles, firefighters will practice evacuating students pretending to be injured or trapped by falling debris.
They will also put out a pretend fire that erupts in a classroom at an elementary school in Echo Park.
The Great ShakeOut has grown since it was first held in California in 2008. This year, people in Japan, Canada, Italy and Guam will join the drill.
"Everyone, everywhere should know how to protect themselves during an earthquake," said event organiser Mark Benthien.
He said the number of people signing up is bigger than last year, despite a US Government shutdown preventing any last-minute promotion of the drill on social media by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Several countries, including Japan and Mexico, have an alert system that gives a few vital seconds of warning to residents after a large quake.
Last month, California Governor Jerry Brown approved a law directing state emergency officials to find ways to fund a statewide quake early warning system by 2016.
Southern California has not experienced a devastating quake since the Northridge disaster that killed 60 people and injured more than 7,000 in 1994.