Collapsed roads, cracked buildings, shelves and cupboards emptied of contents: a powerful 7.0-magnitude earthquake rocked southern Alaska on Friday morning, creating panic in Anchorage, the main city of this American state, yet accustomed to earthquakes.
“It made a lot of noise when it happened, it was clear that it was something much stronger than usual,” said Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, quoted by CNN.
No deaths were reported Friday but several wounded, including a serious one, were hosted in hospitals according to US media, mainly in connection with glass breakage or falling objects caused by the earthquake, whose origin was located just 13 km north of Anchorage (about 300,000 inhabitants).
The city police reported “significant infrastructure damage”.
“Many houses and buildings are damaged, many roads and bridges are cut off, do not take the road if you can avoid it,” the Anchorage police had recommended to the population, who has since announced the reopening of some main roads.
“If you can see through the walls, it’s not good, evacuate, go to a neighbor’s house, if your house seems to be leaning, it’s not good, if you smell gas, go out, “said Anchorage fire chief Jodie Hettrick.
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According to data published by USGS, the earthquake occurred at 8:29 local time (17H29 GMT) and 41 km deep. It was followed by dozens of aftershocks throughout the day.
This violent seismic activity had pushed the American authorities to launch a tsunami warning in this zone but it was quickly lifted.
US President Donald Trump has approved the state of emergency for Alaska and ordered federal state aid.
Images on social networks or TV channels showed crumbling sections of road or cracked buildings, while on Twitter, many residents were posting photos showing the contents of shelves or supermarket shelves scattered on the ground. the impact of shaking.
Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin said on Twitter that her “family is intact” but “not home”.
The rescue services feared mainly accidents and fires caused by power lines fallen to the ground or gas lines broken by the disaster.
“We are concerned about electricity, it’s winter, it’s cold, it’s dark, and we’re not sure of the situation from that point of view,” CBS television reporter Lisa Murkowski said. from Alaska, from the corridors of Congress to Washington.
By the end of the afternoon, fewer than 10,000 customers were left without power in Anchorage.
I want it to stop
According to numerous testimonies, the earthquake has been violently felt by the population, fortunately accustomed to earthquakes in a state that suffers several dozen each year, usually low intensity. Residents have found shelter under offices or outdoors in open spaces, as recommended in such cases.
“The earthquake was strong enough to drop objects off the shelves and shake homes across the region,” says Anchorage Daily News, the leading newspaper in Alaska.
Other media reported the case of a man literally thrown out of his bathtub full of water by shockwaves of the earthquake or customers of a café rushing into the street and forced to cling to each other for keep their balance. “I only thought of one thing: + I want it to stop +”, said one of them.
Air traffic at Anchorage Airport was suspended for a few hours to assess the damage.
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The pipeline through Alaska had also been closed as a precaution but returned to service after seven hours as inspections revealed no damage to the facilities.
Classes were suspended at the University of Alaska at Anchorage (UAA) and at all schools in the district, some of whose students were evacuated and secured.
On March 27, 1964, an earthquake measuring 9.2, the most violent ever recorded in the United States and in the world, had struck the Anchorage region. It had lasted several minutes and caused a destructive tidal wave across the entire West Coast, totaling some 130 casualties.