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Sep 25, 2014 3:33 PM

Powerful earthquake rattles large swath of Alaska

The Associated Press

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) A powerful earthquake shook a large swath of Alaska on Thursday morning, knocking things off shelves and causing people to take cover but bringing no immediate reports of major damage.

The quake had a preliminary magnitude of 6.2, and hit at 9:51 a.m. The epicenter was about 80 miles northwest of the state's largest city, where it was strongly felt and lingered for at least a minute, the Alaska Earthquake Center said.

Staffers at the Nesbett Courthouse in downtown Anchorage felt the shaking in their office on the top floor of the six-story building.

"My computer tower fell off my desk," said judicial assistant Ellen Bozzini. Everyone stood in doorways until an evacuation was ordered, then they took the stairs outside where they waited for about 20 minutes before being allowed back in.

There were no immediate reports of major damage or injury, and no tsunami was expected, according to an emergency management official. The shaking was felt as far as 250 miles northeast of the epicenter.

"It's pretty much a nonevent here in Anchorage right now," said Anchorage Office of Emergency Management Director Kevin Spillers.

In Willow, about 40 miles north of Anchorage and nearer to the quake's epicenter, a clerk at the town's hardware and grocery store said everything shook but nothing fell off the shelves.

"Everything just rocked around," Anne Holliday said. "It's an old building, just rickety."

Debra Pearce, who works for Alaska Auction Company, said she has lived in Alaska for years and this was the strongest quake she felt since a 1964 temblor.

That earthquake - a magnitude 9.2 - was the second-highest magnitude ever recorded, and the quake and resulting tsunamis killed 131 people.

Sandy Lee, who owns Sandy Espre Cafe in midtown Anchorage, said she didn't feel the earthquake, so when she got to her business, she didn't know what had happened. Coffee syrup bottles littered the floor, and dolls had fallen off of shelves.

Jill Warburton was shopping at a department store when the quake hit, and said things fell off shelves but didn't appear to be broken. When she got to her job at the Gold and Diamond Co. in midtown Anchorage, where she's a sales clerk, a few decorative plates had fallen on the ground. Warburton shrugged off the quake.

"I went through the one in 64 - this is nothing," she said.

The rumbling disturbed a press conference for U.S. Senate candidate Dan Sullivan, who was receiving formal support from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, at the Beacon Occupational Health and Safety Services office in Anchorage.

In a disruption captured on video by Anchorage TV station KTUU, the Republican and about a dozen other people can be seen making their way outside when the quake hit.

Sullivan, according to campaign spokesman Mike Anderson, called it an "earth-shaking endorsement."


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