Juneau: A major earthquake struck 170 miles off Alaska early Tuesday, prompting a tsunami warning along the coastline that urged people in affected areas to head to higher ground.
The magnitude 7.9 quake was reported at 12:31 a.m. local time in the Gulf of Alaska, according to the United States Geological Survey.
There were no immediate reports of damage. The United States National Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami alert for areas that included the coast of Alaska to British Columbia and the border with Washington State, and a tsunami watch down to Mexico as well as in Hawaii.
The tsunami center said that the first place likely to be hit would be Kodiak, Alaska, at 1:45 a.m. local time followed by several coastal towns over the following two hours. A tsunami could hit Tofino, British Columbia, on Vancouver Island, around 4:40 a.m. Pacific Standard Time, and the northwest corner of Washington State around 4:55 a.m.
Tsunami sirens were reported to be going off in Kodiak after the earthquake. “Evacuate inland or to higher ground above and beyond designated tsunami hazard zones or move to an upper floor of a multi-story building depending on your situation,” the authorities warned on tsunami.gov. “Move out of the water, off the beach, and away from harbors, marinas, breakwaters, bays and inlets.”
The quake came nearly seven years after Japan was rattled by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake, the strongest ever recorded there. The earthquake set off a powerful tsunami that breached the sea walls of coastal towns, killing at least 15,000 people and sparking a major crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.
A 9.1 magnitude earthquake, one of the most powerful ever recorded, struck off the Indonesian island of Sumatra in December 2004, generating massive waves that killed more than 230,000 people across several countries, from Sri Lanka to India to southern Thailand.