'Long and strong' earthquake in Alaska

  • 25/01/2016

A powerful 7.1 magnitude earthquake has struck remote southern Alaska, unleashing shudders felt several hundred kilometres from the tremor's epicentre at the far end of Cook Inlet.

No injuries were reported, but several neighbourhoods in the town of Kenai – roughly halfway between the quake's centre and Anchorage – were temporarily evacuated after a gas explosion damaged four homes several hours later, a city spokesman said.

As of Sunday night (local time), local utility company Enstar was still investigating whether the earthquake triggered a gas leak believed to have caused the blast, company spokesman John Sims said.

There were also reports of brief blackouts in Anchorage, about 257km southwest of the epicentre, and cities immediately to the north and south.

The quake, initially reported at a 7.3 magnitude, struck at 1:30am about 48km east-southeast of Pedro Bay on the shore of Iliamna Lake, at the foot of a mountain chain just west of Cook Inlet, the US Geological Survey (USGS) reported.

The quake was felt as far away as Whitehorse, the capital of Canada's Yukon Territory more than 966km west of Anchorage, according to the USGS.

Alaska, a seismically active state, records anywhere from 80 to 100 quakes daily, most of them hardly ever noticed.