Earthquake Hits Anchorage With ‘Major Infrastructure Damage’

A 7.0 magnitude earthquake rocked buildings and warped streets in Anchorage Friday morning, prompting people to run out of offices and seek shelter under office desks. Police in Alaska’s largest city said there was “major infrastructure damage.”

The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake, initially measured as magnitude 6.7, then reduced to 6.6 before being upgraded to 7.0, was centered about 7 miles (12 kilometers) north of Anchorage. It was followed six minutes later by a 5.8 magnitude aftershock.

The National Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami warning for nearby coastal zones, but it was later canceled.

It was unclear whether there were injuries. Images and video posted online showed roads cracked or totally destroyed from the shaking. People can be seen taking cover amid the shaking and groceries dumped from store shelves.

“There is major infrastructure damage across Anchorage,” police said in a statement. “Many homes and buildings are damaged. Many roads and bridges are closed. Stay off the roads if you don’t need to drive. Seek a safe shelter. Check on your surroundings and loved ones.”

A rock slide was reported on the Seward Highway, closing part of it, the Department of Transportation said on Facebook. Crews were being sent to inspect bridges.

Anchorage International Airport was closed after the earthquake, and it wasn’t immediately clear when flights would resume, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. The agency advised travelers to check with their airline for information on their flights.

Gov. Bill Walker tweeted that he issued a declaration of disaster.

“From the incident command center established at Joint Base Elmendorf and Richardson we are closely monitoring reports of aftershocks and assessing damage to roads, bridges and buildings,” he said. “My family is praying for yours. God bless Alaska.”

Former Gov. Sarah Palin tweeted that her family is safe but her house was not.

“I imagine that’s the case for many, many others. So thankful to be safe; praying for our state following the earthquake,” she said.

Anchorage lawyer Justin Capp said he was getting ready for work when he felt the shaking start. He grabbed on to the doorframe in the hallway and the door slammed into his hands, scraping his fingers and hand.

Capp said he’s lived in Anchorage eight years and that Tuesday’s quake was the worst he had experienced.

Another lawyer, Hank Graper, was driving when the quake struck. He first thought his vehicle had a flat tire, then thought it was exploding. He realized it was an earthquake after he saw traffic poles swaying.

Graper called it the most “violent” earthquake he’s experience in his 20 years in Anchorage.

Four of the 20 largest earthquakes ever recorded hit in or near Alaska, according to the USGS. The second-largest is the 9.2 magnitude temblor that struck about 50 miles from Anchorage in 1964.

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