Earthquakes in Alaska buckle roads and trigger tsunami warning
A section of road in Anchorage collapsed during the earthquakes, trapping a car. (AP: Dan Joling)
Back-to-back earthquakes measuring magnitude-7 and 5.8 have rocked buildings and shattered roads in Alaska, sending people running into the streets and briefly triggering a tsunami warning for residents to flee to higher ground.
- The first, stronger tremor was centred about 12 kilometres north of Anchorage
- Police warned people in Kodiak city to “evacuate to higher ground immediately”
- In 1964, Alaska was hit by a magnitude-9.2 quake — the strongest in US history
The warning was lifted a short time later. There were no immediate reports of any deaths or serious injuries.
The US Geological Survey said the first and more powerful quake on Friday morning local time was centred about 12 kilometres north of Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city, with a population of about 300,000.
People ran from their offices or took cover under desks.
Cracks could be seen in a two-story downtown Anchorage building, and photographs posted to social media showed fractured roads and collapsed ceiling tiles at an Anchorage high school.
One image showed a car stranded on an island of pavement, surrounded by cavernous cracks where the earthquake split the road.
Cereal boxes and packages of batteries littered the floor of a grocery store, and picture frames and mirrors were knocked from living room walls.
People went back inside after the first earthquake struck, but the magnitude-5.8 aftershock about five minutes later sent them running back into the streets.
A tsunami warning was issued for the southern Alaska coastal areas of Cook’s Inlet and part of the Kenai peninsula.
Kodiak police warned people in the city of 6,100 to “evacuate to higher ground immediately” because of a “wave estimated 10 minutes”.
Man thrown from bathtub as quake creates waves
In Kenai, north of Anchorage, Brandon Slaton was alone at home and soaking in the bathtub when the earthquake struck.
Mr Slaton, who weighs 94 kilograms, said it created a powerful back-and-forth sloshing in the bath, and before he knew it, he was thrown out of the tub by the waves.
His 54-kilogram mastiff panicked and tried to run down the stairs, but the house was swaying so much the dog was thrown off its feet and into a wall and tumbled to the base of the stairs, Mr Slaton said.
Mr Slaton ran into his son’s room after the shaking stopped and found his fish tank shattered and the fish on the floor, gasping for breath. He grabbed it and put it in another bowl.
“It was anarchy,” he said.
“There’s no pictures left on the walls, there’s no power, there’s no fish tank left.
“Everything that’s not tied down is broke.”
Alaska averages 40,000 earthquakes per year, with more large quakes than the 49 other states combined.
Southern Alaska has a high risk of earthquakes because of tectonic plates sliding past each other under the region.
David Harper was getting some coffee at a store when the low rumble began and intensified into something that sounded “like the building was just going to fall apart”. He ran to the exit with other patrons.
“The main thought that was going through my head as I was trying to get out the door was, ‘I want this to stop’,” he said.
Mr Harper said the earthquake was “significant enough that the people who were outside were actively hugging each other”.
“You could tell that it was a bad one,” he said.
On March 27, 1964, Alaska was hit by a magnitude-9.2 earthquake, the strongest recorded in US history, centred about 120 kilometres east of Anchorage. The quake, which lasted about four-and-a-half minutes, and the tsunami it triggered claimed about 130 lives.