By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Tuesday is the 50th anniversary of the devastating San Fernando earthquake, which led to the creation of a first-of-its-kind federal program to reduce earthquake risk.

February 01, 1971. Olive View Hospital After Earthquake (Photo by Lloyd Cluff/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

The 1971 San Fernando Earthquake — sometimes referred to as the Sylmar earthquake — struck the Sylmar area right at 6 a.m. on Feb. 9, wreaking death and destruction throughout the region.

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The magnitude-6.6 earthquake was felt for 300 miles along the coast of California and as far inland as Las Vegas.

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The northwest area of Los Angeles suffered the most damage from the earthquake, which killed 65 people and injured more than 2,000. Property damage – which included collapsed freeways, severely damaged hospitals, and a weakened reservoir that threatened to flood an area occupied by nearly 80,000 residents downstream — totaled more than half a billion dollars.

February 01, 1971. Hospital Damaged by an Earthquake (Photo by Lloyd Cluff/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

The devastation of the 1971 San Fernando earthquake led to significant advances in protecting against future quakes, including the identification of fault zones, the creation of a database to record the effects of ground motion on man-made structures, and the Hospital Safety Act of 1972, which both retrofitted older hospitals and set new building standards so that hospital buildings would remain operable after an earthquake.

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The earthquake also prompted the first Earthquake Clearinghouse, which facilitated better coordination between scientists, engineers, and emergency responders.