A 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck off Alaska’s Kodiak Island early Tuesday, prompting a tsunami warning for a large swath of the state’s coast and sending some residents fleeing to higher ground.
Officials at the National Tsunami Center canceled the warning after a few tense hours after waves failed to show up in coastal Alaska communities. Alaska’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management said there have been no reports of damage, so far.
The strong earthquake hit at 12:30 a.m. and was recorded about 170 miles southeast of Kodiak Island in the Gulf of Alaska. Kodiak Island is located about 200 miles southwest of Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city, which was not under a tsunami threat.
Reports varied about how long the shaking lasted. In the popular cruise ship town of Seward, about 230 miles northeast of Kodiak Island, fire chief Eddie Athey said the quake felt like a gentle rattle and lasted for up to 90 seconds.
“It went on long enough that you start thinking to yourself, ‘Boy, I hope this stops soon because it’s just getting worse,'” Athey said. Initially, the USGS said the earthquake was a magnitude 8.2. That prompted the tsunami warning for coastal Alaska and Canada’s British Columbia, while the remainder of the U.S. West Coast was under a watch.
Alaska Gov. Bill Walker said on his Twitter feed that he has been in contact with local officials and the state’s adjutant general, and he urged residents to heed any warnings to move inland or to higher ground.
The Alaska Earthquake Information Center said the quake was felt widely in several communities on the Kenai Peninsula and throughout southern Alaska, but it also had no immediate reports of damage. People reported on social media that the quake was felt hundreds of miles away, in Anchorage.