The city of Los Angeles was hit by a 4.4 magnitude earthquake this morning, but there were no immediate reports of casualties.

Residents of the Hollywood neighbourhood said they were shaken by the quake, which lasted just a few seconds. Burglar alarms went off but there did not appear to be any damage in the area.

The earthquake was initially estimated as a 4.7 magnitude by the US Geological Survey, but later downgraded to 4.4.

The earthquake was centred 10km northwest of Beverly Hills and struck at 6.25am local time.

It came a week after a powerful 6.9 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of northern California, the biggest in years.

The western state is on the so-called Ring of Fire, which circles the Pacific and has produced a number of devastating quakes including Japan's March 2011 quake-tsunami, which killed thousands of people.

Geologists say an earthquake capable of causing widespread destruction is 99% certain of hitting California in the next 30 years.

A 6.7-magnitude earthquake in Los Angeles left at least 60 people dead and caused an estimated €7.2bn worth of damage in 1994, while a 6.9 quake in San Francisco in 1989 claimed the lives of 67 people.