Magnitude-7.1 earthquake jolts Alaska; 1 home explodes

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- A magnitude-7.1 earthquake knocked items off shelves and walls in south-central Alaska and jolted the nerves of residents in this earthquake-prone region.

See Full Article

But there were no immediate reports of injuries.

One home was extensively damaged and an entire neighbourhood was evacuated after a gas leak was reported, Kenai Police Chief Gus Sandahl said Sunday morning.

The earthquake struck about 1:30 a.m. Alaska time and was centred 53 miles west of Anchor Point in the Kenai Peninsula, which is about 160 miles southwest of Anchorage, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The U.S. Geological Survey initially reported the earthquake at magnitude 7.1, but downgraded shortly after to magnitude 6.8 before raising it back to 7.1.

"Some earthquakes have challenges associated with them, they are unusual or hard to monitor," Alaska State Seismologist Michael West said. "This is neither of them. Southern Alaska is well instrumented, and this earthquake is of the style and type that we would expect in this area."

He called it the strongest earthquake in this region of Alaska in decades. Alaska often has larger or more powerful earthquakes, such as a 7.9 last year in the Aleutians.

"However, last night's earthquake is significant because it was close enough to Alaskan's population centres," West said, adding that aftershocks could continue for weeks.

The biggest aftershock Sunday was 4.7, and West said a magnitude 5 or magnitude 6 aftershock is possible.

The quake caused a gas leak that lead to an explosion in one home and the evacuation of a neighbourhood in the community of Kenai (KEY'-nigh).

In the community of Kenai, located on the Kenai Peninsula, about 30 homes were evacuated after a gas leak was reported.

A responding police officer extinguished a fire that started in a house. But flames started coming under a wall, and the officer backed off to let firefighters finish the work, Sandahl said.

A home neighbouring the one that was on fire then exploded hours after the quake, Sandahl said. All firefighters and gas utility workers were accounted for, and there were no reports of injuries.

Crews were "definitely still trying to resolve the gas issue," Sandal said nearly eight hours after the earthquake.

A shelter was set up at the Kenai Armory for those evacuating their homes, and Sandahl said there were about 20 people there.

The earthquake was widely felt by residents of Anchorage. But the Anchorage and Valdez police departments said they have not received any reports of injury or significant damage.

Vincent Nusunginya, 34, of Kenai said he was at his girlfriend's house when the earthquake hit.

"It started out as a shaking and it seemed very much like a normal earthquake. But then it started to feel like a normal swaying, like a very smooth side-to-side swaying," said Nusunginya, director of audience at the Peninsula Clarion newspaper. "It was unsettling. Some things got knocked over, but there was no damage."

There were reports of scattered power outages from the Matanuska Electric Association and Chugach Electric in the Anchorage area. The Homer Electric Association reported on its website that about 4,800 customers were without power early Sunday in the Kenai Peninsula.

The Alaska Department of Transportation reported on its Facebook page that there was road damage near the community of Kasilof, on the Kenai Peninsula.

Andrew Sayers, 26, of Kasilof was watching television when the quake struck.

"The house started to shake violently. The TV we were watching fell over, stuff fell off the walls," he said. "Dishes were crashing, and we sprinted toward the doorway."

Later, he was driving to his mother's home when he came across a stretch of K-Beach road that was damaged in the quake.

"We launched over this crack in the road. It's a miracle we didn't bust our tires on it," he said.

Sayers took video of the road damage.

Fire departments in Kenai, Anchorage and other communities received calls about the quake.

Alaska response personnel staffed the State Emergency Operations Centers in Anchorage and called communities that could have been impacted by the earthquake, Jeremy Zidek, the spokesman for the Alaska Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, said in an email to The Associated Press.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough reported some damage, but didn't request additional assistance within 90 minutes of the quake, Zidek said.

The hashtag .akquake was trending early Sunday on Twitter, where people were sharing their experiences of the quake and posting photos of items that had fallen off walls and shelves.

After reaching his mother's house, Sayers checked on his grandparents, who live about a mile away.

"No damage, except their Christmas tree fell over," he said.

A tsunami is not expected as a result of the earthquake, the National Weather Service said.

------

Associated Press writer Tarek Hamada in Phoenix contributed to this report.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Military funeral planned for Air Force pilot killed in training exercise

    Canada News CTV News
    A military funeral for an Air Force pilot killed during a training exercise near the Alberta-Saskatchewan boundary is set to take place in Ontario on Wednesday. Capt. Thomas McQueen, 29, was a member of 401 squadron at 4 Wing Cold Lake in northeastern Alberta. Source
  • Libyan officials say last buildings seized from ISIS in Sirte

    World News CTV News
    BENGHAZI, Libya -- Libyan officials say that the last buildings occupied by the Islamic State fighters in the group's onetime stronghold of Sirte have fallen. Ahmed Hadiya, the head of the media centre for the anti-IS operation, told The Associated Press: "This is the last major battle, but it is not the end of military operations nor the declaration of liberation. Source
  • Pence to talk to conservative group at Trump's new DC hotel

    World News CTV News
    Vice President-elect Mike Pence speaks to members of the media as he leaves Trump Tower, Monday, Dec. 5, 2016, in New York. (Andrew Harnik/AP) Source
  • 'The old model is exhausted': Populism's effect on French politics

    World News CBC News
    If common wisdom about current fury is right, and people across the West want change, they're getting a bellyful of it in France. The last few weeks here have seen dramatic upheaval in the country's political class that, however willed, remains unexpected. Source
  • Man dies after drunk pals toss him outside for snoring

    World News Toronto Sun
    Evidently, snoring can be fatal. A pair of drunken buffoons, ages 28 and 35, in a Paris suburb stripped down another boozing buddy and left him outside their apartment building because his loud snoring was keeping them awake. Source
  • Canadian students among world's most educated in science

    Canada News CTV News
    Canadian students are among the world's most educated when it comes to science, according to an annual survey measuring education levels in 72 different countries. Canada tied Finland for fourth overall in the 2015 ranking compiled by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, which measured math, science and reading levels in 540,000 randomly-selected 15-year-olds. Source
  • Residents pay tribute to those killed in 1917 Halifax explosion

    Canada News CTV News
    Halifax is marking the 99th anniversary of an event that devastated a large sweep of the coastal city. People gathered at various sites today to pay tribute to thousands of residents who were killed or injured in the Halifax Explosion on Dec. Source
  • Guilty: Father murdered infant son while driving on highway

    World News Toronto Sun
    ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. — A man spotted fatally beating his 4-month-old son while driving down a highway has been convicted of murder. The sentencing of 35-year-old Daniel A. Cox of Radcliff is scheduled for Jan. 24. The News-Enterprise reports a Hardin County jury recommended Monday that Cox get life with parole eligibility after 20 years. Source
  • It's not over yet: More snow in the forecast for B.C.'s South Coast

    Canada News CTV News
    Phrases such as freezing temperatures, snowy roads and ice bombs aren’t usually synonymous with B.C.’s South Coast, but they aptly described the wintry blast of weather the region experienced throughout the day on Monday. And it’s not over yet. Source
  • Warrant issued for mother of Ont. girl who was subject Amber Alert

    Canada News CTV News
    Layla Sabry, 9, is described as white, about four-foot-two, with a thin build, brown hair, and brown eyes. Source