Earthquake aftermath
The earthquake caused a rockfall which overturned this car Brea Police Dept

A 5.1 magnitude earthquake followed by almost two dozen smaller tremors has rattled Los Angeles, California, breaking water mains, causing gas leaks and stopping rides at Disneyland. One minor injury was recorded in Orange County, close to the epicentre east of La Habra.

The earthquake followed a 3.6-magnitude tremor in the same area. Two weeks ago a 4.4-magnitude earthquake struck central LA.

Tom Connolly, who lives near the epicentre of the earthquake, told Associated Press: "We felt a really good jolt. It was a long rumble and it just didn't feel like it would end. Right in the beginning it shook really hard, so it was a little unnerving. People got quiet and started bracing themselves by holding on to each other. It was a little scary."

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said: "Tonight's earthquake is the second in two weeks, and reminds us to be prepared."

Earthquakes that register less than 5.5 rarely do any major damage, even at relatively shallow depths like the most recent tremors, but will have reminded Angelinos of the city's proximity to the San Andreas Fault, or so-called "Ring of Fire", where tectonic plates collide and occasionally cause earthquakes on a far greater scale. Japan's 2011 earthquake was caused by the same fault.

1994's 6.7 magnitude earthquake in Northridge, Los Angeles killed dozens and caused damage of an estimated $42 billion – making it the United States' second-costliest disaster. In 1906 the San Francisco earthquake caused by the same fault killed some 3,000 people.

Seismologists estimate a devastating earthquake is 99% certain to hit California in the next 30 years. In 2006 a report warned that the next "big one" could cause substantial damage to cities including Palm Springs, as well as damaging Los Angeles and even as far south as Tijuana in Mexico.

The report concluded: "The information available suggests that the fault is ready for the next big earthquake but exactly when the triggering will happen and when the earthquake will occur we cannot tell. It could be tomorrow or it could be 10 years or more from now."