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The Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport in Anchorage, Alaska. Picture: 123RF/ANDREW F KAZMIERSKI
The Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport in Anchorage, Alaska. Picture: 123RF/ANDREW F KAZMIERSKI

Anchorage — Tsunami warnings were lifted for Alaska and the rest of Pacific after a huge earthquake of 8.2 magnitude struck the seismically active US state in the late hours on Wednesday.

In Alaska, small tsunami waves measuring under a foot above tide level were observed in Sand Point, Old Harbor, King Cove, Kodiak, Unalaska and Alitak Bay, according to the US National Tsunami Warning Center (NTWC).

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage to property. Several Alaskan coastal communities were evacuated following the quake. Among them was Seward on the Kenai Peninsula, south of Anchorage, where sirens blared and residents were told to move to higher ground.

The US Geological Survey (USGS) said the quake struck at 10.15pm local time at a depth of 35km. It struck about 91km east-southeast of Perryville, about 800km from Anchorage, Alaska's biggest city.

The US states of California, Oregon and Washington and the Canadian province of British Columbia were out of danger, Dave Snider, tsunami warning co-ordinator with the NTWC, told Reuters.

While shallow earthquakes near populated areas can be dangerous, in this case the shallow quake posed less of a threat because they do not usually generate large tsunamis.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) cancelled warnings issued for Hawaii and the US Pacific territory of Guam, while the public broadcaster NHK said there was no risk to Japan. Authorities in New Zealand also said they did not expect any flooding in coastal areas.

According to the USGS, the quake was followed by over 25 aftershocks in the region, with two around magnitude 6.0.

The quake was the seventh largest in US history, tied with another Alaskan quake from 1938, according to USGS data.  It is also the largest quake in North America since an Alaskan quake of 8.7 magnitude in 1965, according to USGS data.



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