Magnitude 7.0 Earthquake Shakes Alaska, Damaging Roads, Buildings Around Anchorage

PHOTO: After an earthquake on Friday, Nov. 30, a car is trapped in a crumbled section of off-ramp from Minnesota Drive, a major road in Anchorage, Alaska. CREDIT: Nathaniel Herz/Alaska Public Media


In Anchorage, Alaska, people took refuge under tables and fled outdoors on Friday morning, as a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck just north of the city.

Some roads, bridges and buildings have been damaged, and schools and some businesses are shuttered for the day. Gov. Bill Walker has issued a declaration of disaster.

Anchorage police report “major infrastructure damage” across the city. “Many homes and buildings are damaged,” the police department says. “Many roads and bridges are closed.”

A tsunami warning was temporarily issued for coastal regions of Cook Inlet and the Southern Kenai Peninsula, but it has since been canceled.

The earthquake struck just before 8:30 a.m. local time (12:29 p.m. ET). The epicenter was about 8 miles north of Anchorage, at a depth of some 25 miles.

It was followed by a series of aftershocks, including one particularly powerful one.

“People went back inside after the first earthquake struck, but the 5.8 aftershock about five minutes later sent them running back into the streets,” The Associated Press reports.

The original earthquake powerfully shook Anchorage, the most populous city in Alaska. Some schools and businesses across the city are closing for the day.

“I’ve been here 11 years and I’ve felt movers before, but that scared me s***less,” Anchorage resident Kevin Bartley told reporter Nat Herz of Alaska Public Media. “That’s the quickest I’ve ever seen one come on and the hardest I’ve ever seen it shake.

“The transformers were blowing up … It felt like for a minute we might watch that ground open up,” Bartley said.

The United States Geological Survey estimates that there is a low probability of fatalities, since most people in the region live in buildings that can withstand an earthquake. Some economic damage is possible, though, the USGS says.

An off-ramp on Minnesota Ave, a major thoroughfare, was damaged; the portion of road provides access to the Anchorage International Airport.

A vehicle was left standing on an island of asphalt in the middle of the road, with gaping chasms on all sides.

Chris Riekena, a motorist behind the stranded car, saw it happen.

“I started to feel my car not driving properly, so I thought I had a flat,” he told Herz. “So I pulled over and then started to see everything swaying and lights flashing and stopped. And then I watched the car in front of us start to sink as the road pushed out to the left.”

It happened slowly, he said, not abruptly. As far as he could tell, the driver of the vehicle — after discussing the situation with police — left his stranded car behind and continued to the airport.

While same ramps to the airport are closed, the terminal is open, and flights are arriving and departing, the airport announced on Twitter. However, the Federal Aviation Administration says it has issued a groundstop and it’s not clear when flights into Anchorage will resume.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit