Quake tsunami alert for Alaska, Canada canceled

AP, JUNEAU, Alaska

Mon, Jan 07, 2013 - Page 7

A powerful earthquake sparked a tsunami warning for hundreds of kilometers of Alaskan and Canadian coastline, but the alert was canceled when no damaging waves were generated.

The magnitude 7.5 quake and tsunami warning that followed caused concern in some coastal communities, with alarms sounding and people rushing to higher ground for safety.

However, the Alaska Tsunami Warning Center later said the waves were too small to pose a threat, reaching just 15cm above normal sea level in places such as Sitka and Port Alexander.

“Initially, in the first 15 to 20 minutes, there might have been a bit of panic,” Sitka Police Chief Sheldon Schmitt told reporters.

However, he said things calmed down as the town waited for the all clear.

The temblor struck at midnight on Friday and was centered about 95km west of Craig, Alaska, the US Geological Survey said.

The quake was followed by several aftershocks, including a magnitude 5.2 quake felt in southeastern Alaska and British Columbia.

“Houses shook; mine had things tossed from [the] wall,” Craig Police chief Robert Ely said.

However, he added that there were “no reports of any injuries, no wave, no tidal movement seen.”

The tsunami warning was eventually expanded to include coastal areas from Cape Fairweather, Alaska, to the northern tip of Vancouver Island, Canada — an area extending more than 1,125km.

The center had warned that “significant widespread inundation of land is expected,” adding that coastal flooding was possible.

“A tsunami was generated during this event, but no longer poses a threat,” the center said.

The Alaska Earthquake Information Center said the quake was widely felt, but it received no reports of any damage.

Schmitt said that an evacuation sirens and announcements came shortly after the quake, prompting the temporary rush to higher ground.

A tsunami advisory was also briefly in effect for some Alaska coastal areas to the north and south of the warning zone, from the Washington State border to the northern tip of Vancouver Island.