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Powerful earthquake shook southern Alaska

Alaska. A powerful earthquake shook southern Alaska on Friday morning, buckling roads, disrupting traffic and jamming telephone lines in and around Anchorage, the state’s largest city, but there were no reports of injuries.

The 7.0 magnitude quake struck about 8 miles (13 km) north of Anchorage, a city of 300,000 residents accounting for about 40 percent of Alaska’s population, and was followed by dozens of aftershocks.

Roads and bridges appeared to have been hardest hit, but Anchorage was otherwise largely spared from major structural damage, authorities said. Power outages and disruption of phone service was widespread.

“We did have a couple of reports of buildings collapses,” Fire Chief Jodie Hettrick told reporters about three hours after the quake, adding that three structure fires also were reported, though details were not immediately available.

“The fact that we went through something this significant with this minimal amount of damage says that we’re a very well prepared community, that our building codes and our building professionals have done a terrific job,” Mayor Ethan Berkowitz said.

The initial quake produced strong shaking within a 30-mile (50 km) radius of its epicentre, with ground movement felt as far away as Fairbanks, 250 miles to the north as the crow flies, and Kodiak, roughly the same distance to the south, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

“Thought the house was going to come apart,” Anchorage-based climatologist Brian Brettschneider wrote on Twitter, posting a photo showing his kitchen floor scattered with items that tumbled out of cupboards.

A tsunami warning was issued for Cook Inlet, linking Anchorage with the Gulf of Alaska, but was later cancelled.

The Trans Alaska Pipeline, which carries crude oil 800 miles (1,300 km) from Alaska’s North Slope to the marine terminal at Valdez, was shut down for about seven hours as a precaution, but no damage to the system was detected, said a spokeswoman for the operator, Aleyska Pipeline Service Co.

The quake occurred nearly 27 miles (43 km) beneath the surface, apparently on an unnamed fault line, or fissure, inside a portion of the Earth’s crust known as Pacific plate where it bends underneath the North American plate, USGS geophysicist Brian Kilgore told Reuters.

“This is kind of an odd quake,” he said, adding that only 15 or 16 quakes of magnitude 6 or greater have been recorded during the past century in the same region of Alaska.

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