California unveils early warning earthquake app

California launched the country's first earthquake warning system in the hope that residents will be alerted within seconds of a possible impending disaster and can 'drop, cover and hold on'.

The app, created by the University of California, Berkeley, and unveiled on the 30th anniversary of the deadly Loma Prieta quake, uses ground motion sensors located across the state to detect the start of earthquakes before humans can feel them.

"Nothing can replace families having a plan for earthquakes and other emergencies," Governor Gavin Newsom said in unveiling the warning system.

"And we know the Big One might be around the corner. I encourage every Californian to download this app and ensure your family is earthquake ready."

The cellphone app called 'MyShake' can provide potentially life-saving seconds of warning before the ground starts to shake from a nearby quake -- enough time to drop, cover and hold on to help prevent injury, Newsom's office said in a statement.

"Warnings delivered through the system are based on a computerized program called 'ShakeAlert' operated by the U.S Geological Survey that analyzes data from seismic networks in California, calculates preliminary magnitudes, and then estimates which areas will feel shaking," the statement said.

(with news agency inputs)