PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Californians would have precious seconds to prepare for a major earthquake under a new proposal to create a statewide early warning system, officials said Monday.

State Sen. Alex Padilla joined with seismologists in announcing legislation to create the system that would cost $80 million.

The U.S. has been testing warning systems for several years but lags behind countries such as Japan and Mexico in implementing the technology to warn the public.

Such systems are designed to detect the first pulses of energy from an earthquake, estimate its magnitude and send alerts before damaging seismic waves spread widely.

Warning times would range from a few seconds to tens of seconds — enough time for people to take cover or begin shutting down systems that could be damaged by severe shaking.

Padilla’s bill seeks to identify potential sources of state and federal funding. He said he expects the legislative process to identify the sources by August.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.


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