Congressional panel to conduct earthquake hearing

WASHINGTON (AP) - Beefing up earthquake preparedness along the New Madrid fault is the focus of a congressional field hearing in St. Louis this week.

Lawmakers are working to prevent the lapses that occurred during Hurricane Katrina.

The hearing Friday will address what federal, state and local officials can do to prepare for a major earthquake that could affect parts of Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, Missouri and Illinois.

Only one bridge on the Mississippi River between St. Louis and Memphis is built to withstand a magnitude six earthquake.

Scientists have long warned that a massive earthquake could strike the area around the New Madrid seismic zone.

Earthquake experts have said there is a 24% to 40% chance of a magnitude six earthquake along the New Madrid Fault over the next 50 years.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)