CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) -- According to a study released to the public this week by the University of Illinois, The New Madrid (MAY'-drid) seismic zone could produce a massive earthquake that could devastate parts of the central United States.
According to the study commissioned by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, a 7.7-magnitude temblor could leave 3,500 people dead, more than 80,000 injured and more than 7 million homeless. The immediate economic impact would be $300 million.
The lead author, Professor Amr Elnashai (ah-MER' el-nah-SHY') says he also found that authorities in Illinois and the seven other states most likely affected are ill-prepared for the aftermath. He noted that they would have special problems in repairing and retrofittin the numerous bridges likely to be damaged.
The New Madrid zone is primarily in Arkansas and Missouri and has produced powerful earthquakes in the past.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)