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Northern Ireland pair shaken by quake on 30th floor of Las Vegas hotel

Ron Mikulaco and Brad Fernandez examine a crack caused by the earthquake
Ron Mikulaco and Brad Fernandez examine a crack caused by the earthquake
Matthew Jackson (left) and David Gourley

By Mark McConville

A Co Antrim man was left "gobsmacked" after he woke up to find his 30th floor hotel room shaking as the California earthquake rocked Las Vegas.

Matthew Jackson (28) from Islandmagee but now living in Edinburgh, had dozed off while getting ready to head out on Friday night when he was woken up by the tremor.

He said he thought his friend David Gourley from Carrickfergus was "shaking the bed" to wake him - but quickly realised something was wrong.

He added: "The building was moving from side to side. We were 30 storeys up in the Planet Hollywood hotel and we had a good view of the MGM and it just kept moving as well.

"David thought the buildings might come down and we later found out that part of the hotel had been evacuated but they hadn't reached us by the time the tremor stopped.

"I've never experienced anything like it. It was not that violent, but it lasted for a long time."

The 7.1 quake - preceded by Thursday's 6.4-magnitude tremor in the Mojave Desert - was the largest southern California earthquake in at least 20 years and was followed by a series of aftershocks.

With typical Northern Irish humour Matthew described the feeling as like "being on the SeaCat when it was really rough".

He said that residents were going about business as usual, but tourists were left shaken.

He added: "I spoke to a Texan couple who were in the casino at the time. They had never experienced it before.

"The guy thought he had just had a few too many beers, even though the whole building was shaking."

Matthew and David were in Las Vegas for four days as part of an almost three-week long holiday in America and are now heading to Los Angeles, where they could face further danger.

Matthew said: "Everyone in Vegas was talking about it and they say these large earthquakes come in threes.

"It's possible a larger third one could be on its way and we're heading to LA, so we're travelling closer to it.

"We've downloaded apps to track the quakes and there have been hundreds of little ones and they are still continuing."

The earthquake had its centre 11 miles from Ridgecrest in the area where the previous quake hit.

But it was felt as far north as Sacramento, as far east as Las Vegas and as far south as Mexico.

The area in and around Ridgecrest, already trying to recover from the previous quake, suffered the worst of the damage.

Kern County Fire Chief David Witt said there had been no reports of building collapses or deaths, but a number of people had been injured.

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