Earthquake in Alaska causes widespread damage to highways and buildings

ANCHORAGE — A magnitude 7.0 earthquake, followed by numerous aftershocks, rattled Alaska Friday morning, causing widespread damage to highways and buildings. The quake was centered just seven miles northwest of downtown Anchorage, the state’s largest city, and was followed by numerous aftershocks. 

Gasps of “oh my god!” could be heard as the earthquake rocked buildings, including a courthouse in Anchorage, and seemed to go on and on. People dove for cover as ceiling tiles fell from above and desks shook inside a courtroom. 

Students dove under desks. Food flew off store shelves and windows were shattered. There were no immediate reports of any deaths or serious injuries, but the earthquake but did cause extensive infrastructure damage, including a highway that collapsed near Wasilla.

Roads collapsed all around Anchorage, including an exit ramp near the International Airport. A lone car was left on an island of asphalt. The airport was closed after traffic controllers warned planes trying to land to abort.

CBS affiliate KTVA was knocked off the air and its newsroom largely destroyed. Computers, lights and cameras were tossed around like toys. But the staff kept reporting — via social media. 

Kirk Kullberg said his house was a mess after the earthquake. “The dresser came down in the kid’s room,” Kullberg said. “Definitely thankful that everyone is OK.”

The shaking could be felt 350 miles away. Officials briefly issued a tsunami warning for coastal areas of southern Alaska. The governor has asked for a disaster declaration.

While damage assessments are underway, seismologist Lucy Jones said Alaskans can expected to be impacted for awhile.

“Having another magnitude 5 won’t surprise any seismologist but we usually get the public going ‘wait a minute, this was supposed to be over,'” Jones said. “So expect that there could be a magnitude 5 a year or two from now.”

Jones said that future quake would be associated with Friday’s earthquake.

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