Af­ter­shocks rock Alaskans af­ter big earth­quake

The Bradenton Herald (Sunday) - - Nation & World - BY RACHEL D’ORO AND DAN JOL­ING


Chris Riekena was driv­ing his 7-year-old son to school when his car started act­ing up. As he pulled over, he re­al­ized the prob­lem wasn’t his car – it was a huge earth­quake.

Riekena turned around to calm his son in the back seat and when he looked for­ward again, the road ahead of him was sink­ing into the earth. He pulled his son out of the car as light poles along the road swayed.

By the time the shak­ing stopped Fri­day, the car just in front of his on the free­way was ma­rooned on an is­land of as­phalt with a huge chasm on both sides.

“It was prob­a­bly a good 30 to 40 sec­onds of slow­mo­tion dis­as­ter,” said Riekena, an en­gi­neer with the Alaska Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion who later re­turned to the site for his job.

“Thank­fully I pulled over when I did,” he said.

Back-to-back earth­quakes mea­sur­ing 7.0 and 5.7 cracked high­ways and rocked build­ings Fri­day in An­chor­age and the sur­round­ing area, send­ing peo­ple run­ning into the streets and briefly trig­ger- ing a tsunami warn­ing for is­lands and coastal ar­eas south of the city.

No tsunami ar­rived, and there were no re­ports of deaths or se­ri­ous in­juries.

Af­ter­shocks Sat­ur­day con­tin­ued to fray nerves. U.S. Ge­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey Geo­physi­cist Paul Caruso said there have been 545 af­ter­shocks, in­clud­ing the 5.7 mag­ni­tude shaker that came al­most im­me­di­ately af­ter Fri­day’s big quake. Eleven have had mag­ni­tudes of 4.5 or greater.

The af­ter­shocks should be weaker and less fre­quent in the com­ing days, but of­fi­cials can’t say for sure when they'll stop, Caruso said.

The USGS said the first and more pow­er­ful quake was cen­tered about 7 miles north of An­chor­age, Alaska’s largest city, with a pop­u­la­tion of about 300,000. Peo­ple ran from their of­fices or took cover un­der desks. The 5.7 af­ter­shock ar­rived within min­utes, fol­lowed by a se­ries of smaller quakes.

An­chor­age Po­lice Chief Justin Doll said he had been told that parts of Glenn High­way, a scenic route that runs north­east out of the city past farms, moun­tains and glaciers, had “com­pletely dis­ap­peared.”

The quake broke store win­dows, knocked items off shelves, opened cracks in a two-story build­ing down­town, dis­rupted elec­tri­cal ser­vice and dis­abled traf­fic lights, snarling traf­fic.

Flights at the air­port were sus­pended for hours af­ter the quake knocked out tele­phones and forced the evac­u­a­tion of the con­trol tower. And the 800mile Alaska oil pipe­line was shut down for hours while crews were sent to in­spect it for dam­age.

An­chor­age’s school sys­tem can­celed classes and asked par­ents to pick up their chil­dren while it ex­am­ined build­ings for gas leaks or other dam­age.

Gov. Bill Walker is­sued a dis­as­ter dec­la­ra­tion. And Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump late Fri­day de­clared an emer­gency, which al­lowed the Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency to co­or­di­nate dis­as­ter re­lief ef­forts.

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