Alaskans are being asked to “hold on” as aftershocks continue after back-to-back earthquakes of 7.0 and 5.8 magnitude scale rocked the city of Anchorage.
“Right now, we’re asking people to drop, cover and hold on when they feel earthquakes,” Alaska’s state division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management spokesperson Jeremy Zidek said on Saturday (Friday local time) while aftershocks continued.
Buildings were rocked and roads buckled in Anchorage when the first and more powerful quake centred about 12 kilometres north of Anchorage made landfall at 8.30am Alaskan time.
People took shelter inside buildings after the first earthquake, but just five minutes later the 5.8 magnitude quake sent office workers and school children running back into the streets.
This is what happened on the 6th floor of the Nesbett Courthouse during the Anchorage #earthquake. Both attorneys jumped under their desks. Evacuated the building after the shaking stopped. pic.twitter.com/dqHGPCv6XO
— Heather Hintze (@HeatherHintze) November 30, 2018
Local and state officials assessed the earthquake had caused “major infrastructure damage across Anchorage”, according to the police department.
Photographs posted on social media showed collapsed ceiling tiles at an Anchorage high school, while others showed cars stranded on an island of pavement, surrounded by cavernous cracks where the earthquake split the road.
Alaskan man Brandon Slaton told US TV station WLOX he was thrown from his bathtub when the earthquake struck.
Mr Slaton said the quake created a powerful back-and-forth sloshing in the bathtub before he was thrown out of the tub by the sheer force of the waves.
Meanwhile, he said his 54-kilogram mastiff dog was thrown off her feet into a wall and tumbled down the stairs of his swaying home.
“It was anarchy. There’s no pictures left on the walls, there’s no power, there’s no fish tank left. Everything that’s not tied down is broke,” he said.
US President Donald Trump, who is currently attending the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, said the federal government would “spare no expense” assisting Alaskans.
To the Great people of Alaska. You have been hit hard by a “big one.” Please follow the directions of the highly trained professionals who are there to help you. Your Federal Government will spare no expense. God Bless you ALL!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 30, 2018
The US Geological Survey estimates a low probability of fatalities from the earthquake.
It also issued an estimated economic loss between $100 million and $1 billion with an “orange alert”, with past events of this level requiring regional or national level response.
Utility companies and cooperatives reported more than 50,000 customers lost power on Friday, while the outages have fallen as electricity was restored.
Alaska Department of Transportation crews have been sent out to inspect roads and bridges, while a rockslide has shut down one highway.
The United States Geological Survey said Friday’s quake hit on a fault line between the Pacific and North American tectonic plates.
Alaska records about 40,000 earthquakes per year, with more large quakes than the 49 other US states combined.