Tsunami warning lifted for Alaskan coastal areas
Residents scramble to higher ground as warning sirens blare
A magnitude-7.2 earthquake shook a large swath of Alaska's Aleutian Islands on Thursday evening, sending residents of small coastal towns to higher ground as officials issued a tsunami warning in the temblor's wake.
The quake was centred 200 kilometres east of Atka, about 1,900 kilometres southwest of Anchorage. It was recorded at a depth of 42 kilometres, the Alaska Earthquake Information Center said.
The quake was felt through the central Aleutians and as far east as Dutch Harbor and Unalaska, but no damage was reported, said Jeremy Zidek, a spokesman with the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
"It was shaking, it was just a little rumbly" and lasted about 20 seconds, said Atka resident Rodney Jones.
The West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center posted a tsunami warning for some coastal areas of Alaska, but cancelled the warning about an hour after the quake. The warning covered an area from 120 kilometres northeast of Dutch Harbor to about 200 kilometres west of Adak.
Jones said it appeared all of the town's 61 residents took to higher ground when they heard the tsunami warning, issued over CB radio. The residents gathered on a high hill for about an hour, near their new water tank.
During their wait for the all-clear signal, he said a priest with the town's Russian Orthodox Church recited prayers.
In Dutch Harbor, longshoreman Jim Paulin said warning sirens also caused hundreds of people to begin climbing up a nearby hill.
"Right now there's hundreds of people up on the hilltop," he told The Associated Press before the all-clear was given. "I can look across the bay and see people on another hilltop."
After the tsunami warning was cancelled, he said everybody was "calm. It seems like everybody's kind of enjoying it. It's good weather."
Paulin said no one seemed panicked because the city has been evacuated in the past. But, he said, "It's better to be safe than sorry."