US Geological Survey Reports 6.8 Magnitude Earthquake Off Guatemala Coast

Someone on Hauksson's team made a change, which inadvertently sent an email out on the U.S. Geological Survey's email server that typically sends alerts of new earthquakes. Within a half-hour, a more detailed statement appeared on its website clarifying the software issue.

Shortly after the alert sent out, the USGS announced on Twitter that it was a false alarm.

The USGS reported a 2.1 magnitude quake early Thursday morning and indicated its epicenter in the area of Briarwood Drive.

The Los Angeles Times reported the person responsible for the false alarm was a Caltech employee. The Los Angeles Times quickly deleted the tweet and published an article explaining what had occurred. The Times' robotic newsman picked up the scoop, fashioned it into a news story and dutifully sent out a tweet. That's 100 years to the day after the Santa Barbara quake.

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Soon enough people were taking to Twitter to ask what was going on. That quake severely damaged buildings and killed 13 people.

Additionally, people around the country began to scratch their heads as no one had reported feeling tremors ― something that most certainly would have happened in large numbers had an natural disaster of that size actually come about.

Edwin de Leon, a spokesman for fire services in Guatemala, told local radio the quake had damaged houses, bringing down some roofs, but also said no casualties had been reported. But they rarely are for quakes so big or in areas with so many people.

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