I am aware of what happens if a ground fault occurs outside of the electrical panel. For example, if a live wire were to touch the metal enclosure of some appliance, provided that the enclosure is connected to the ground conductor back to the panel, there should now be a path for current to flow back to the power source, creating a short circuit that trips the breaker the appliance is associated with (provided neutral and ground conductor are bonded in the panel). If someone were to touch the appliance, they would not be shocked.
However, if one of the live wires coming from the meter base somehow comes loose in the main panel (SEP) and touches the metal enclosure of the panel, there will now be a shorted circuit since the enclosure of the main panel is bonded to the neutral bar.
However, since this live wire is no longer connected to the main breaker in the panel, what happens next to clear the ground fault? Would the short circuit remain until someone realizes the fault? What if someone touches the cover of the panel?
Similarly, what if the same things happen but at the meter base? E.g., a live wire from the utility touches the metal enclosure of the meter base, how is the fault cleared? While I understand how ground faults are cleared after the main panel, it is unclear to me what happens from the main panel going back to the meter base.