A shallow earthquake of magnitude 8.2 has struck the Alaska Peninsula, prompting tsunami warnings across the Pacific Ocean. The US Geological Survey (USGS) said the quake, which struck at 10:15pm (06:15 GMT Thursday), was at a depth of 35km (22 miles).
In Alaska, the National Tsunami Warning Center (NTWC) issued warnings for southern parts of the state, the Peninsula, and Pacific coastal areas from Hinchinbrook Entrance to Unimak Pass. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) also issued a warning for the US state of Hawaii and the US Pacific territory of Guam.
“Based on all available data a tsunami may have been generated by this earthquake that could be destructive on coastal areas even far from the epicenter,” PTWC said.
The Hawaii warning was later cancelled.
Meanwhile, Japan’s Meteorological Agency was investigating whether there was a possibility of a tsunami hitting Japan, the public broadcaster NHK said. Authorities in New Zealand also said they were assessing if there was any danger to coastal regions.
Videos posted on social media by journalists and residents in Kodiak, the main city on Alaska’s Kodiak island, showed people driving away from the coast as warning sirens could be heard. The NTWC said that it was also evaluating the level of tsunami danger for other US and Canadian Pacific coastal areas.
The USGS had earlier pegged the magnitude of the quake at 7.2. The USGS said the quake was followed by eight aftershocks in the region, with two above magnitude 6.0. Alaska is part of the seismically active Pacific Ring of Fire. The state was hit by a 9.2-magnitude earthquake in March 1964, the strongest ever recorded in North America.
It devastated the capital Anchorage and unleashed a tsunami that slammed the Gulf of Alaska, the US west coast, and Hawaii. More than 250 people were killed by the quake and the tsunami. A 7.5 magnitude earthquake also caused tsunami waves in Alaska’s southern coast in October, but no casualties were reported.