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Strong shaking and aftershocks rock Alaska’s largest population center.
EARLIER: A magnitude 7.0 earthquake and a series of aftershocks shook portions of south-central Alaska on Friday morning, including Anchorage, the state’s largest city. A tsunami warning was issued for all of the Cook Inlet following a strong aftershock but was canceled.
While Alaska is no stranger to earthquakes, the epicenter’s close proximity to the state’s largest population center—Anchorage is home to approximately 300,000 residents and the neighboring Matanuska-Susitna Borough, is home to approximately 100,000 people—means that this quake will likely have statewide impacts due to the area’s importance as a logistics and commercial hub.
Among early reports out of the region, power and telephone service has been disrupted. Local broadcast news stations reported they were knocked off the air. The extent of the damage is at this point unclear, but according to an Alaska Public Media livestream, the Anchorage Police Department reported major damage to infrastructure across the city and urged residents to stay off the roads.
The earthquake shook buildings violently. At Anchorage Daily News in Midtown, it sent cracks up walls, damaged ceiling panels and flung items off desks and walls, including a computer monitor and a fire extinguisher.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the quake struck around 8:25 a.m. Alaska Standard Time. The epicenter, about 8 miles north of Anchorage had a depth of about 25 miles.
The Municipality of Anchorage reported on its earthquake operations portal that the local emergency operations center has been activated and authorities urged residents to shelter in place; multiple road closures were reported, including a highway on-ramp to Anchorage International Airport which KTUU reported collapsed due to liquefaction.
A portion of the Seward Highway, which connects Anchorage with the Kenai Peninsula, was also closed on Friday.
The Anchorage Water and Wastewater Authority reported via Twitter that it was responding to multiple water main breaks and urged residents to boil their water as a precaution, though there’s “no reason to believe the water is not currently safe.”
Chugach Electric, a major power supplier for parts of the municipality, reported numerous power outages on its realtime service map.
The Alaska Department of Transportation reported that Anchorage International Airport is open but sustained some minor damage, including broken windows, lighting fixtures and heating systems in the terminal. The Dena'ina Civic and Convention Center in downtown Anchorage was opened as a shelter for those who can’t reach their homes.
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Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Route Fifty and is based in Seattle.