A powerful 7.8 earthquake that hit in the waters off the Alaska Peninsula late Tuesday and triggered a tsunami warning sent residents fleeing for high ground over fears of threatening waves before an all clear was given.
The 7.8 magnitude quake struck Tuesday at 10:12 p.m. local time and was centered in the ocean about 65 miles south-southeast of Perryville, Alaska. A tsunami warning that was issued for much of coastal Alaska, including southern Alaska, the Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutian Islands, was called off about two hours later with no serious damage reported.
“No reports of any damage,” Kodiak Police Sgt. Mike Sorter told The Associated Press early Wednesday. “No injuries were reported. Everything is nominal.”
The National Tsunami Warning Center said in its statement calling off the warning that “a tsunami was generated by this event, but no longer poses a threat.” The center added that some sea level change may still occur in the area and that people should not return to hazard zones until local officials say it is safe.
According to the Anchorage Daily News, some people in Anchorage, the state’s most populous city, received tsunami warning alerts though the area was not at risk. But some people in Anchorage did feel the earthquake’s power.
“This is a very significant earthquake in size,” Michael West, a state seismologist with the Alaska Earthquake Center, told the Anchorage Daily News.
West told the newspaper that while the type of earthquake felt on Tuesday was typical for Alaska, “these are the style of earthquakes which can be very tsunami-producing.”
Many residents in the areas that were issued warnings fled for shelters and evacuated as sirens blared. Many gathering at shelters donned masks to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus. High schools on Kodiak Island opened their doors for evacuees, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
“We’ve got a high school full of people,” said Larry LeDoux, superintendent of the Kodiak School District. “I’ve been passing out masks since the first siren sounded,” he told the newspaper.