Video source: YouTube, ABC7
According to officials, the largest quake in the United States in the last half century has caused many tremors, but has spared Alaska significant damage in less populated areas.
A magnitude 8.2 quake was reported Wednesday at about 10:15 pm and occurred just south of the Alaska Peninsula, about 500 miles southwest of Anchorage. According to the US Geological Survey, the quake was about 29 miles below the surface of the North Pacific Ocean.
The Alaska Earthquake Center said on its website that it was the largest earthquake in the United States since the 1965 earthquake of magnitude 8.7 on the Aleutian Islands. A year earlier, the 9.2 magnitude Good Friday quake destroyed Anchorage and some of the other Alaskan communities. The quake and the subsequent tsunami killed 131 people from Alaska to California.
The quake at the end of Wednesday caused a lot of tremors, but officials said no major damage was reported after sunrise on Thursday.
“We were lucky and very lucky,” said Jordan Keeler, city manager at Sandpoint, a community of about 1,300 people located about 65 miles southwest of the epicenter of the quake.
The city crew went out in the first light on Thursday to make an assessment.
“Everything seems to be working fine,” he said. This followed reports from the city’s police chief and harbourmaster that there was no major damage.
The tsunami warning to Alaska was canceled early Thursday, with a maximum wave of just over 0.5 feet recorded at Old Harbor. The tsunami warning that also occurred in Hawaii was canceled, and officials said there was no threat to Guam, American Samoa, or the Northern Mariana Islands.
The Alaska Tsunami Warning covered a range of approximately 1,000 miles from Prince William Sound to Samalga Island, Alaska, near the end of the Aleutian Islands.
Homer’s Kenai Peninsula community has seen cars constantly evacuating from Homer Spit, a land protrusion that stretches about five miles into Kakemac Bay, where tourists and fishermen gather.
At King Cove, up to 400 people were evacuated to the school gym.
“We’re used to this. It’s normal for this kind of earthquake to occur in the area, and when the tsunami sirens sound, that’s what we do,” said Principal Paul Barker. Told Anchorage Daily News. “I’m not familiar with it, but it’s part of the job of living here and being part of the community.”
There are many reports of minor damage such as broken glasses and plates due to tremors.
Patrick Mayer, the school director of the Aleutians East Autonomous Region, was sitting in his kitchen in the Sand Point community when the quake began.
“It started going, but it didn’t stop,” Mayer told Anchorage Daily News. “It lasted for a long time and there were some aftershocks. The pantry had an empty floor and the refrigerator had an empty floor.”
According to the United States Geological Survey, several other quakes, preliminary magnitude 6.2 and 5.6 quakes, occurred in the same area within hours of the first quake.