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Strong Quake Shakes Southern Alaska

July 9, 1998

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) _ A strong, rolling earthquake rocked Anchorage and a wide area of southern and interior Alaska on Thursday morning, sending people scurrying into the streets. There were no immediate reports of any serious damage or injuries.

The quake was measured at a preliminary magnitude of 6.4 and was centered 125 miles southwest of Anchorage. It was felt in Anchorage, Kodiak, Fairbanks, Delta, Palmer and Cordova, shaking an area about 225 miles by 500 miles.

The quake also triggered house alarms and knocked items off shelves.

In the village of Tyonek across Cook Inlet and west of Anchorage, Jessica Standifer said she ran from the building where she works as an administrative assistant for the local government.

``It was shaking for a long time,″ Ms. Standifer said. ``We could hear the building cracking.″

In Homer, at the southern end of the Kenai Peninsula, one restaurant reported minor damage as well as some startled tourists.

``I personally have been in Alaska for 30 years and I’ve never felt one like that,″ said Lisa Nolan, owner of Cafe Cups. ``It shook us well. We lost a couple bottles of wine off the shelves.

``Travelers were going like `Holy smokes’ and we’re all going `Uh oh, where’s the tsunami,′ because being on the water that’s your first reaction.″

The Tsunami Warning Center said there was no danger of a tsunami, a giant wave generated by undersea movement of the Earth.

In Anchorage, the shaking last about 45 seconds and sent office workers scurrying into the streets.

But in Iliamna, one of the villages closest to the temblor’s epicenter, residents felt nothing.

``Our plants aren’t swaying at all,″ said Renee Newton, a health aide in the village 200 miles southwest of Anchorage and 75 miles southwest of the epicenter. ``Usually if they’re any magnitude around here we can feel it.″

Judy Ferguson, who lives in Delta, a farming community 225 miles northeast of Anchorage, said the temblor produced a strong, sustained vibration.

``I don’t think objects were moving, but it was heavy vibration, rolling. I was in a small office in the upstairs of a log home and there were serious vibrations going on from longer than I’ve remembered in an earthquake,″ Ms. Ferguson said.

Eric Boquin of Talkeetna was in his trailer when the quake hit.

``Nothing was torn up actually, it just shook a little bit more than when the train goes by,″ he said. ``I used to live in California but I never felt one like that before.″

Southern Alaska sits along the ``Ring of Fire,″ an arc of volcanos and fault lines stretching along the West Coast and into Asia. It’s among the world’s most earthquake-prone regions.

Alaska is no stranger to earthquakes _ several a week is a common frequency _ but they usually are less powerful.

The 1964 ``Good Friday″ earthquake in Alaska measured 8.5 on the Richter scale and was centered in Prince William Sound.

Seismologists since have upgraded that reading to 9.2 on a ``moment magnitude″ scale, making it second only to the 9.5 moment magnitude for the May 21, 1960, Chilean quake and tsunami that killed about 5,700 people.

The Great Alaska Earthquake generated large waves that devastated several coastal communities and killed 131 people as far south as California.

The Richter scale has given way to moment magnitude, which is related to the area of the fault on when an earthquake occurs, and the amount the ground slips. It is one of the most widely used measures of earthquake size.

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