Magnitude-6.8 earthquake strikes Alaska

A magnitude-6.8 earthquake knocked items off shelves and walls in south-central Alaska and jolted the nerves of residents in this earthquake-prone region, but there were no immediate reports of injuries.

The earthquake struck about 1:30 a.m. Alaska time and was centered 53 miles west of Anchor Point and 160 miles southwest of Anchorage, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. In its initial report, the agency had classified the earthquake as a magnitude-7.1 event.

The earthquake was widely felt by residents of Anchorage, and there are reports of scattered power outages from the Matanuska Electric Association and Chugach Electric in the Anchorage area. The Homer Electric Association reported on its website that about 4,800 customers were without power early Sunday in the Kenai Peninsula. The Anchorage and Valdez police departments say they have not received any reports of injury or significant damage.

Anchorage resident Ron Barta says his house shook about 1:34 a.m. when the earthquake hit. Barta, 55, says the pictures on the walls started moving, but there was no damage to his house and no one was hurt.

“I was sitting here with the dogs getting ready to go to bed about 1:34 local time. … I felt a little rumble that didn’t quit for about 30 to 45 seconds. It felt like the house moved,” said Barta, who is married to an Associated Press reporter.

Vincent Nusunginya, 34, of Kenai said he was at his girlfriend’s house when the earthquake hit.

“It started out as a shaking and it seemed very much like a normal earthquake. But then it started to feel like a normal swaying, like a very smooth side-to-side swaying,” said Nusunginya, director of audience at the Peninsula Clarion newspaper. “It was unsettling. Some things got knocked over, but there was no damage.”

The KSRM (Radio Kenai) radio station in the Kenai peninsula reported that about 2:30 a.m. the Kenai Fire Department was on the scene of a gas leak and explosion at a home. Fire departments in Kenai, Anchorage and other communities were getting calls about the quake.

A dispatcher for the Homer police department, who declined to identify herself, said no one called to report broken gas lines or any significant damage, but many called to report feeling the strong quake.

The violent shaking woke up Associated Press reporter Mark Thiessen, who had been asleep for about two hours when then quake struck.

“I remember the bed swaying back and forth, and loud noises, enough to wake me up even after taking sleeping pills,” said Thiessen, 53. “My husband came into the bedroom forcefully saying, ‘Get up! Get up!’ ” he said. “But I was already awake, trying to figure out what was happening.”

Barta, who has lived in Anchorage for about 10 years, says Alaskans on social media say the earthquake woke them up.

People were saying on social media that the earthquake “was the biggest I ever felt as long as I have lived here,” Barta said. One Twitter user wrote: “Everyone in Anchorage is awake and on Twitter right? Biggest longest #earthquake of my entire life. Family is all hanging in our bed now.”

A tsunami is not expected as a result of the earthquake, the National Weather Service said.

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