Some coastal Alaska residents flee strong quake over fears of tsunami that didn't materialize



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ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A powerful earthquake sent some coastal Alaska residents running for higher ground in fear they would be swamped by a tsunami, a disaster that never materialized after the shaking that did little more than knock pictures off walls.

The magnitude-6.7 quake struck at 11 p.m. Thursday and was centered in the ocean about 35 miles beneath the seabed and some 400 miles southwest of Anchorage, the U.S. Geological Survey said. It hit a remote and lightly populated Aleutian Island region.

The temblor was felt on the Alaska Peninsula and Kodiak Island, more than 100 miles away.

"We got shook up pretty good," said Alvin Pedersen of Chignik Lagoon, an oceanside community on the Alaska Peninsula.

He said the quake, which lasted about a minute, was the strongest he had felt since Alaska's Good Friday earthquake of 1964, the second-strongest ever recorded at magnitude-9.2. That quake and the resulting tsunamis killed 131 people.

"It was pretty violent," Pedersen said of Thursday's shaking.

He saw a few of the community's 72 residents drive uphill to avoid a possible tsunami.

Pedersen, an assemblyman for the Lake and Peninsula Borough, said many of the 96 people living in the adjacent village of Chignik also moved to higher ground. Chignik faces the ocean, while Chignik Lagoon is a little more sheltered.

They returned home after no tsunami danger was found, said Jeremy Zidek, a spokesman for the state emergency management department. He called their actions "prudent" because the danger is high in Alaska of quake-generated landslides pushing debris into the ocean and triggering big waves.

"If they feel violent shaking and it lasts 30 seconds or more, they should move to higher ground or inland, and that's exactly what they did," he said.

The shaking woke Pedersen up. He said pictures fell off the wall and items were knocked off shelves, but nothing was broken.

Zidek said emergency officials called communities within a hundred miles of the quake, and none reported damage. Alaska State Troopers also didn't receive reports of major damage.

The temblor created a buzz on Kodiak Island, the most populated area to feel the quake.

A troopers sergeant who lives in the city of Kodiak "was sitting on his couch just watching the curtains sway," agency spokeswoman Megan Peters said in an email to the AP.

The "earthquake lasted a minute — max," Kodiak resident Don Roberts told the Kodiak Daily Mirror. "We're up for the next two hours talking about it."

Several aftershocks of magnitude-3.0 or greater followed the larger shaking, the Geological Survey said.


Associated Press writers Bob Seavey and Courtney Bonnell in Phoenix contributed to this report.

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