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The Latest: Seismic expert: Alaska uses stringent standards

December 2, 2018
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A car is trapped on a collapsed section of the offramp of Minnesota Drive in Anchorage, Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. Back-to-back earthquakes measuring 7.0 and 5.8 rocked buildings and buckled roads Friday morning in Anchorage, prompting people to run from their offices or seek shelter under office desks, while a tsunami warning had some seeking higher ground. (AP Photo/Dan Joling)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Latest on the Alaska earthquakes (all times local):

3:30 p.m.

A seismic expert says Alaska and California use the most stringent standards to help buildings withstand earthquakes like the one that struck Anchorage.

There was minimal structural damage Friday to Anchorage buildings, though some major roadways will need significant repairs.

Sterling Strait, a member of the Alaska Seismic Hazards Safety Commission, said Saturday that both states use the International Building Code, considered the best available standard for seismic safety.

He says it requires buildings to be designed to resist possible ground motion determined by location and earthquake histories.

It also requires that structural connections — such as beams and columns — be reinforced to resist damage from shaking.

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3 p.m.

Earthquake damage is preventing the Alaska Railroad from operating between the state’s two largest cities.

Railroad spokesman Tim Sullivan said Saturday there are three areas north of Anchorage that are impassible and preventing trains from making the trek between Anchorage and Fairbanks. The trip is 350 miles (563 kilometers) each way.

Cracks up to 4 feet (1.2 meters) wide and 150-feet (46 meters) long have been found on either side of the tracks near Nancy Lake, about 45 miles (72 kilometers) north of Anchorage. The damage was caused by ground shifting, cracking or sloughing.

Heavy equipment will be used to repair the tracks over the next few days. However, a complete inspection of the track and bridges hasn’t been completed, so Sullivan said officials do not know when rail service to Fairbanks will resume.

Train service south of Anchorage is scheduled to resume Sunday. Work also continues to clean up extensive water damage the railroad’s operation center in Anchorage.

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12:45 p.m.

The federal transportation department is releasing $5 million in emergency relief funds to help road and bridge repairs in Alaska following Friday’s magnitude 7.0 earthquake.

The Federal Highway Commission released the funds Saturday after it said it received a request from Alaska Gov. Bill Walker and the state transportation commissioner, Marc Luiken.

The Glenn Highway received damage in several areas north of Anchorage. The Seward Highway south of Anchorage has seen several rock slides from the quake and aftershocks. An on-ramp to a major Anchorage roadway also was damaged.

The $5 million is essentially seen as a down-payment to help fund short-term repairs while assessments for long-term repairs are made.

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12:30 p.m.

Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz says the city is on the road to returning to normal a day after a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck.

There were no deaths reported from the quake and minimal damage to buildings. However, the one highway leading north out of Anchorage received some major damage in spots.

At one time, power was out to nearly 50,000 residents because of the quake. But Anchorage Municipal Manager Bill Falsey said at a news conference Saturday that power has been restored to all but about a dozen residents.

The gas company is investigating about 650 reports of leaks, a number that has risen Saturday as people return to office buildings to check on damage.

Police said there was no looting in the aftermath of the quake. And fire officials warned people to be careful as high winds expected later Saturday could send unsecured debris flying.

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9:55 a.m.

The Alaska Department of Transportation has all of its inspectors in the Anchorage area Saturday to conduct bridge inspections following the 7.0 earthquake that caused highway damage mostly north of the city.

Officials say there are 40 sites in the area with some type of damage, and eight of those are considered major.

The major damage is mostly to highways or ramps getting on or off the Glenn Highway north of Anchorage. There’s also damage at the interchange of the Glenn and Parks highways.

Rock falls exacerbated by hundreds of aftershocks are causing some problems on the Seward Highway south of Anchorage.

Officials say in a release that the aftershocks continue to contribute to settling and additional cracking.

Department spokesman Meadow Bailey tells The Associated Press that normal operations have resumed at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.

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8:20 a.m.

Strong aftershocks from Alaska’s magnitude 7.0 earthquake continued Saturday around Anchorage, jolting people awake and pummeling already frayed nerves.

The U.S. Geological Survey says there have been 545 aftershocks, including a 5.7 magnitude shaker that followed Friday’s big quake almost immediately.

Geophysicist Paul Caruso says 11 aftershocks have had magnitudes of 4.5 or greater. He says there should be fewer and weaker aftershocks in the coming days, but officials can’t say for sure when they will stop.

Friday’s quake was centered about 7 miles (12 kilometers) north of Anchorage. There have been no reports of deaths or serious injuries.

President Donald Trump late Friday declared an emergency for the earthquake, which allowed the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts.

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12 a.m.

Two strong earthquakes measuring 7.0 and 5.7 ripped apart highways, cracked buildings and rattled people’s nerves around Anchorage.

The quakes on Friday broke store windows, opened cracks in a two-story building downtown, disrupted electrical service and disabled traffic lights, snarling traffic.

There were no reports of any deaths or serious injuries.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the first and more powerful quake was centered about 7 miles (12 kilometers) north of Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city, with a population of about 300,000.

People ran from their offices and into the streets or took cover under desks as the ground shook for about 30 seconds.

Anchorage Police Chief Justin Doll says parts of Glenn Highway, a scenic route that runs northeast of the city, had “completely disappeared.”

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