The US Geological Survey (USGS) said the quake was 8.2 magnitude and struck 91 kilometers east southeast of Perryville, Alaska, around 8:15 p.m. Wednesday. It struck about 28 miles below the ocean’s surface, according to the USGS. It was one of the strongest earthquakes in U.S. and Canadian history, and the largest since 1965, according to USGS data.
Residents reported only minor damage, but officials said that could change after sunrise and people would have better eyesight.
Residents of coastal British Columbia waited impatiently past midnight as emergency officials assessed the risk of a local tsunami. After more than three hours, officials confirmed there was no threat to the province just after 2:30 a.m. PT.
According to the local MP, about 800 people from the village of Kitimaat, south of Kitimat, British Columbia, have moved to heights as a precaution.
The National Tsunami Warning Center rescinded the warnings early Thursday when the biggest wave, just over half a foot, was recorded in Old Harbor, Alaska. A tsunami alert that had been issued for Hawaii was also canceled and officials said there was no threat to Guam, American Samoa or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
The warning for Alaska covered nearly a 1,600 kilometer stretch from Prince William Sound to Samalga Island, near the end of the Aleutian Islands.
Patrick Mayer, the Superintendent of Schools for the East Aleutian District, was sitting in his kitchen in the community of Sand Point when the earthquake began.
“It started to go away and just didn’t stop,” Mayer told The Anchorage Daily News. “It went on for a long time and there were several aftershocks as well. The pantry is empty all over the floor, the fridge is empty all over the floor. “
On the Kenai Peninsula, a constant stream of cars have been seen evacuating the Homer Spit, a nearly five-mile stretch of land into Kachemak Bay that attracts tourists and fishermen.
In King Cove, up to 400 people took refuge in the school gymnasium.
We are used to this. It’s pretty normal for this region to have these kind of earthquakes, and when the tsunami sirens go off, it’s just something we do, ”said school principal Paul Barker, in the Anchorage newspaper.
“It’s not something you get used to, but it’s part of the job of living here and being part of the community. “
Several other earthquakes, some with preliminary magnitudes of 6.2 and 5.6, occurred in the same area hours after the first, the USGS reported.