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6.9 Quake Off Alaska Coast Routs Hundreds

November 17, 1987|Associated Press

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A severe earthquake struck off the south-central Alaska coast, shaking Anchorage 270 miles away and causing thousands of coastal residents to briefly flee their homes, authorities said today.

There were no reports of injury or damage.

The quake struck at 12:46 a.m. PST today and had a preliminary Richter scale magnitude of 6.9, said Alec Medbery of the Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer.

The U.S. Geological Survey at Golden, Colo., said it recorded the quake at 6.8 on the Richter scale.

Officials issued a tsunami, or tidal wave, warning for most of the Alaska and British Columbia coasts. It was canceled about 1 1/2 hours later when tidal gauges indicated a rise of only four inches or less at villages closest to the quake's epicenter, the warning center said.

Coastal communities, however, already had begun evacuations.

In Kodiak, some people were still heading for higher ground when the all-clear was issued at 1:32 a.m., police Sgt. Nancy Perry said.

Some people were going to Kodiak High School, while others drove to Pillar Mountain, a 1,270-foot rise on the west side of town.

"There's a whole line of cars on Pillar Mountain, so we have to make sure they get down without crushing each other," Perry said.

In Cordova, Mayor Erling Johansen said shortly before the warning cancellation that emergency officials were fanning out to warn the town's 2,600 residents to move to higher ground.

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