A major earthquake struck Anchorage, Alaska and surrounding areas at 8:30 a.m. Friday morning prompting Gov. Bill Walker to issue a disaster declaration. The National Weather Service also issued a tsunami warning soon after the 7.2 earthquake but it was pulled back a few hours later. Police said there are some homes, highways, schools, and roads with major damage and there are reports of intermittent power outages
The epicenter is reported to be about seven miles north of Anchorage. There are no reports of any deaths due to the quake at this time. Anchorage has a population of about 300,000 people and is the largest city in the state.
Alyeska Pipeline Service Company said they have shut down the 800-mile trans-Alaska pipeline as a precaution. The TAPS pipeline carries crude oil from Prudhoe Bay on the North Slope to the port city of Valdez located about 150 miles east of Anchorage.
The major quake was not one that rolled slowly, but was about five minutes of a strong and violent shaker. Items and pictures fell off the walls in many homes. A 9.2 struck Alaska in 1964 and caused more than 100 deaths and is identified as the strongest earthquake in the United States.
The Friday morning quake struck just about the same time that local schools opened and as many people started their workday. There are reports of collapsed bridges and roads, broken gas lines and snarled traffic in the city. All students are safe, according to the Anchorage School District.
Nerve-wracking aftershocks are still rocking the city. Some shoppers say many stores are closed – except those that serve liquor and wine. “But the lines are really long,” one said.
Anchorage is located near the Denali fault. The fault is located in Alaska's Denali National Park, formerly known as Mt. McKinley, and to the east. The National Park includes part of a massive mountain range more than 600 miles long. Along the Denali Fault, lateral and vertical offset movement is taking place as evidenced by many earthquakes in the region.
The Alaska Earthquake Center reported more than 150,000 earthquakes in Alaska over the last five years. Thirty-one of those had magnitudes of 6 or greater, and four had magnitudes of at least 7. Seventy-five percent of all earthquakes in the United States with magnitudes larger than five happen in Alaska, the Center said.
This is a developing story and will be updated as the situation changes.