7.0 magnitude earthquake in Alaska causes widespread damage

By Associated Press, Emilee Speck - Digital journalist

In this photo provided by Jonathan M. Lettow, people walk along Vine Road after an earthquake, Friday, Nov. 30, 2018, in Wasilla, Alaska. (Jonathan M. Lettow via AP)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - A 7.0 magnitude earthquake rocked buildings in Anchorage on Friday and caused lampposts and trees to sway, causing damage to buildings, homes and infrastructure.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the earthquake Friday morning was centered about 7 miles north of Alaska's largest city.

The National Tsunami Warning Center has canceled a tsunami warning for coastal areas of Cook Inlet and the southern Kenai Peninsula in Alaska.

Scientists said the earthquake and aftershocks occurred on a type of fault in which one side moves down and away from the other side.

Seismologist Lucy Jones told reporters Friday at the California Institute of Technology that the fault is within the Pacific tectonic plate that is diving under Alaska, a mechanism that produces the largest earthquakes in the U.S.

She said the area in which the quake occurred has loose sediment containing lots of water, and when the ground moves, it creates liquefaction, or "temporary quicksand."

Jones said liquefaction can cause damage to structures because the ground moves out from beneath them.

Damages reported

An Associated Press reporter working in downtown Anchorage saw cracks in a two-story building after the quake. It was unclear whether there were injuries.

News 6 obtained photos from residents of a road that crumbled during the earthquake in Anchorage. See video of that collapse here.

CBS affiliate KTVA in Anchorage felt the powerful quake, causing ceiling tiles to fall in the newsroom. A photo shared with News 6 by KTVA reporter Cassie Schirm showed damage at the news station.

People went back inside buildings after the earthquake, but a smaller aftershock a short time later sent them running back into the streets again.

The U.S. Geological Survey initially said it was a 6.7 magnitude earthquake and later boosted the magnitude to 7.0.

Anchorage Police Chief Justin Doll says he is unaware of reports of deaths or serious injuries following the earthquake that rocked the state's largest city.

Anchorage Fire Department Chief Jodie Hettrick says there were reports of buildings collapsing but she did not have further details.

President Donald Trump tweeted that the federal government "will spare no expense" helping Alaska following the earthquake.

Trump tweeted, "You have been hit hard by a `big one"' and asked residents to follow officials' directions.

Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin tweeted that her family is OK but said her "house is not." She did not elaborate but said she thinks "that's the case for many, many others."

Check back for updates on this developing story.

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