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Party Like It's the End of the World

CATEGORY: Crisis, Drill, Death, Party

DIVISION: Modern Evil

EDITORIAL: While Californians practice what to do in an earthquake to survive, we would also encourage them to practice what to do if they don't survive or know they're going to be dead soon. Going out in style is making the best of a bad situation. And in that west-coast spirit, Earthquake Parties are the next natural evolution in tragedy preparedness. Having a solid plan for your demise is just good living.

Ready, Set, Shake: California Puts on Quake Drill

LOS ANGELES — Californians dropped to the ground, covered their heads and held onto the furniture Thursday for a mock "Big One" - an earthquake drill billed as the largest in U.S. history and aimed at testing everyone from state leaders to students who donned fake blood to play victim.

At exactly 10 a.m., television news programs announced there was an earthquake disaster drill, then cut to cameras in school classrooms showing children ducking under their desks and holding onto them. After about a minute, the drill moved into aftermath mode, with people portraying quake victims.

The exercise was based on a hypothetical magnitude-7.8 temblor that ruptures the southern San Andreas Fault _ an event that scientists call the feared "Big One." Such a quake would cause 1,800 deaths and $200 billion in damage, researchers estimate.

Local governments, emergency responders, schools, hospitals, churches, businesses and residents were taking part. Organizers said some 5 million people had signed up to participate.

"We're trying to make it a communal event," U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Lucy Jones, who helped create the crisis scenario, said before the event.

The minimum participation calls for people to dive for safety. Firefighters and other emergency responders are staging full-scale exercises complete with search-and-rescue missions and medical triaging of people posing as casualty victims.

Shortly before the fake quake struck, students at Bishop Alemany High School in the Mission Hills area lined up to receive makeup that would turn them into simulated quake victims.

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