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    Major SoCal quake predicted within 5 months

    LOS ANGELES -- A state earthquake council has given a qualified endorsement to a prediction by a group of scientists who believe that a temblor of magnitude-6.4 or greater will occur in the Southern California desert sometime in the next five months.

    The California Earthquake Prediction Evaluation Council, a group of eight scientists selected by the state Office of Emergency Services, said it considers the new prediction by the scientists to be "a legitimate approach in earthquake prediction research."

    Despite its support the panel noted in a report that "the physical basis for the prediction has not been substantiated."

    The team of scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles, predict that a quake will occur within a 12,000-square-mile area east of Los Angeles by Sept. 5. The zone includes a large swath of the Mojave Desert, the Coachella Valley, the Imperial Valley and eastern San Diego County.

    The area was the location of the magnitude-7.3 Landers earthquake in 1992 and the 7.1 Hector Mine quake in 1999.