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'Many homes are damaged': Powerful 7.0 magnitude earthquake hits Alaska

Police in the city of around 300,000 said it had caused “major infrastructure damage”.

The on-ramp to Minnesota Drive in Anchorage, Alaska shows the effects of the morning's earthquake which caused extensive damage to the local area.
The on-ramp to Minnesota Drive in Anchorage, Alaska shows the effects of the morning's earthquake which caused extensive damage to the local area.
Image: AP Photo/Michael Dinneen

A POWERFUL EARTHQUAKE rocked Anchorage today, violently shaking homes and businesses, sending scared residents into the streets and damaging buildings in Alaska’s largest city.

The 7.0-magnitude quake struck at 8.29 am local time (5.59 pm Irish time), in the middle of the school run and as workers were heading out for the day.

The US Geological Survey said the epicentre was about eight miles (13 kilometres) north of Anchorage at a depth of 25 miles.

Police in the city of around 300,000 said it had caused “major infrastructure damage”.

“Many homes and buildings are damaged,” the police department said in a statement.

“Many roads and bridges are closed. Stay off the roads if you don’t need to drive.”

There were no immediate reports of significant injuries.

A tsunami warning was issued for the Cook Inlet and the Kenai Peninsula following the massive quake but was quickly lifted.

Residents posted pictures and videos to Twitter of damage to their homes and stores – belongings knocked off of shelves, broken windows and pictures scattered on the floor.

Local CBS affiliate KTVA posted a video of a room shaking back and forth with panels falling from the ceiling and lights flickering on and off as people hid under desks.

Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski said the authorities were worried about access to power following the quake.

“It’s winter. It’s cold. It’s dark. And we’re not sure what the power situation is,” Murkowski said.

We’re worried about breaks in gas lines.

University, airport closed

ENSTAR Natural Gas company asked residents to beware of gas leaks while the main water company said there had been water main breaks.

Municipal Light & Power warned of possible downed power lines and said it was seeking to restore electricity to affected customers.

About two-and-a-half hours after the quake, Municipal Light & Power said approximately 7,000-10,000 customers were still without power.

The company said there was no damage to electricity generation infrastructure.

The University of Alaska announced it was closing for the day.

“All non-essential personnel should go home,” it said in a tweet.

Anchorage airport temporarily halted incoming and outgoing flights after the air control tower was evacuated.

In an audio recording posted online, an air traffic controller could be heard telling a FedEx cargo plane to go around – abort its landing – as the quake hit.

A video posted to Twitter showed a buckled road on a highway exit ramp leading to the airport and a stranded car.

The Anchorage School District told parents to come pick up their children “when you feel it is safe to do so”.

The Trans Alaska Pipeline, one of the longest crude oil pipelines in the world, was shut down as a precautionary measure so crews could inspect the system.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said President Donald Trump had been briefed about the quake and was monitoring damage reports.

“To the Great people of Alaska. You have been hit hard by a ‘big one’,'” Trump tweeted. “Your Federal Government will spare no expense. God Bless you ALL!”

Alaska was hit by a 9.2 magnitude earthquake in March 1964, the strongest ever recorded in North America, which left 139 people dead.

© – AFP 2018

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