Back-to-back earthquakes shatter roads and windows in Alaska

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Back-to-back earthquakes measuring 7.0 and 5.7 rocked buildings and shattered roads Friday morning in Anchorage, sending people running into the streets and briefly triggering a warning to residents in Kodiak to flee to higher ground for fear of a tsunami.

The warning was lifted without incident a short time later. There were no immediate reports of any deaths or serious injuries.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the first and more powerful quake was centered about 7 miles (12 kilometers) north of Anchorage, Alaska's largest city, with a population of about 300,000. People ran from their offices or took cover under desks.

A large section of road near the Anchorage airport collapsed, marooning a car on a narrow island of pavement surrounded by deep chasms in the concrete. Several cars crashed at a major intersection in Wasilla, north of Anchorage, during the shaking.

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

Photos shared on social media of the quake: 

32 PHOTOS
Major earthquake hits near Anchorage, Alaska
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Major earthquake hits near Anchorage, Alaska
This aerial photo shows damage on Vine Road, south of Wasilla, Alaska, after earthquakes Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. Back-to-back earthquakes measuring 7.0 and 5.7 shattered highways and rocked buildings Friday in Anchorage and the surrounding area, sending people running into the streets and briefly triggering a tsunami warning for islands and coastal areas south of the city. (Marc Lester/Anchorage Daily News via AP)
Cases of beer lie jumbled in a walk-in cooler at a liquor store, Value Liquor, after an earthquake on Friday, Nov. 30, 2018, in Anchorage, Alaska. Owner Mary Funner says beer, wine and other bottled alcohol was strewn throughout store aisles after the quake. She considered closing Friday until customers began lining up. They were allowed to come in in small groups. "We're still in business, but we're only open only a little bit at a time," she said. (AP Photo/Dan Joling)
A car is trapped on a collapsed section of the offramp of Minnesota Drive in Anchorage, Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. Back-to-back earthquakes measuring 7.0 and 5.8 rocked buildings and buckled roads Friday morning in Anchorage, prompting people to run from their offices or seek shelter under office desks, while a tsunami warning had some seeking higher ground. (AP Photo/Dan Joling)
Adriel Matavo, left, and Aisoli Lealasola work in a walk-in cooler to clean up fallen cases of beer at a liquor store, Value Liquor, after an earthquake on Friday, Nov. 30, 2018, in Anchorage, Alaska. Owner Mary Funner says beer, wine and other bottled alcohol was strewn throughout store aisles after the quake. She considered closing Friday until customers began lining up. They were allowed to come in in small groups. "We're still in business, but we're only open only a little bit at a time," she said. (AP Photo/Dan Joling)
A crack which opened up along a roadway near the airport is seen after an earthquake in Anchorage, Alaska, U.S. November 30, 2018. REUTERS/Nathaniel Wilder
The interior of the police headquarters building in Anchorage, Alaska, is littered with debris following an earthquake Friday monring, Nov. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Rachel D'Oro)
Cars line up for gas at an open station in Anchorage, Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. Back-to-back earthquakes measuring 7.0 and 5.8 rocked buildings and buckled roads Friday morning in Anchorage, prompting people to run from their offices or seek shelter under office desks, while a tsunami warning had some seeking higher ground. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)
Staff begin the clean up process after an earthquake caused damage at the Alaska Institute of Oriental Medicine in Anchorage, Alaska on Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. Back-to-back earthquakes measuring 7.0 and 5.8 rocked buildings and buckled roads Friday morning in Anchorage, prompting people to run from their offices or seek shelter under office desks, while a tsunami warning had some seeking higher ground. (AP Photo/Mike Dinneen)
A car is trapped on a collapsed section of the offramp of Minnesota Drive in Anchorage, Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. Back-to-back earthquakes measuring 7.0 and 5.8 rocked buildings and buckled roads Friday morning in Anchorage, prompting people to run from their offices or seek shelter under office desks, while a tsunami warning had some seeking higher ground. (AP Photo/Dan Joling)
Dennis Keeling measures for a broken window at an auto parts store in Anchorage, on Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. Back-to-back earthquakes measuring 7.0 and 5.8 rocked buildings and buckled roads Friday morning in Anchorage, prompting people to run from their offices or seek shelter under office desks, while a tsunami warning had some seeking higher ground. (AP Photo/Mike Dinneen)
A sign indicates the police headquarters building is closed following an earthquake Friday morning, Nov. 30, 2018. in in Anchorage, Alaska. An earthquake measuring 7.0 and followed by a 5.7 afershock rocked buildings and buckled roads Friday morning in Anchorage, prompting people to run from their offices or seek shelter under office desks, while a tsunami warning had some seeking higher ground. (AP Photo/Rachel D'Oro)
A stranded vehicle lies on a collapsed roadway near the airport after an earthquake in Anchorage, Alaska, U.S. November 30, 2018. REUTERS/Nathaniel Wilder
Tristan Covina helps clean up broken glass in the offices of the Institute Alaska, following an earthquake, Friday, Nov. 30, 2018, in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/Michael Dinneen)
A ramp from International Airport Road to Minnesota Drive was damaged in an earthquake on Friday, Nov. 30, 2018, in Anchorage, Alaska. Alaska Gov. Bill Walker says it will take more than a week or two to repair roads damaged by the powerful earthquake. (Marc Lester/Anchorage Daily News via AP)
This aerial photo shows damage at the Glenn Highway near Mirror Lake after earthquakes in the Anchorage area, Alaska, Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. Back-to-back earthquakes measuring 7.0 and 5.7 shattered highways and rocked buildings Friday in Anchorage and the surrounding area, sending people running into the streets and briefly triggering a tsunami warning for islands and coastal areas south of the city. (Marc Lester/Anchorage Daily News via AP)
Allison Susel, the acting principal at Chugiak High School in Chugiak, Alaska, surveys damage following the magnitude 7.0 earthquake Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. Susel said ceiling tiles came down, books and other items were thrown off shelves in the library and there was water damage, but there were no injuries to students or staff at the suburban Anchorage school. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)
Energy Services North employees prepare to replace a fallen street light Friday, Nov. 30, 2018, in Anchorage, Alaska, one of the effects of the morning's earthquake which caused extensive damage to the local area. Scientists say the damaging Alaska earthquake and aftershocks occurred on a type of fault in which one side moves down and away from the other side. (AP Photo/Michael Dinneen)
Earthquake damage is seen inside the Silva Saddle Western Wear store in Anchorage, Alaska, U.S. November 30, 2018 in this image obtained from social media. Don Causey/via REUTERS
A car is trapped on a collapsed section of the offramp in Anchorage, Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. Back-to-back earthquakes measuring 7.0 and 5.8 rocked buildings and buckled roads Friday morning in Anchorage, prompting people to run from their offices or seek shelter under office desks, while a tsunami warning had some seeking higher ground. (AP Photo
Earthquake damage is seen inside a house in Anchorage, Alaska, U.S. November 30, 2018 in this image obtained from social media. @singlepayertom/via REUTERS
A stranded vehicle lies on a collapsed roadway near the airport after an earthquake in Anchorage, Alaska, U.S. November 30, 2018. REUTERS/Nathaniel Wilder
https://t.co/tvFMtpxun3
#Update: KTVA’s newsroom felt the blow of the earthquake this morning. #anchorage #alaska @lookner https://t.co/WVxmn5f8SR
My sister's house in Anchorage after the earthquake. 😞 https://t.co/KM8zk9FWvq
collapsed road on minnesota and international. shits crazy https://t.co/9slyeqLndW
@JonahNRO Parents’ kitchen in Anchorage 😳 https://t.co/uKGUDKZoIV
BREAKING: More Incredible video from today's #earthquake in Anchorage, Alaska. https://t.co/SYN63c7GZU
#FridayFeeling #Breaking Taken at Service High School in #Anchorage #Alaska this morning. https://t.co/yUOAEJGKoX
Tsunami alerts in effect after magnitude 7.0 earthquake years apart portions of Alaska near Anchorage. #earthquake https://t.co/snWCZQAmkt
Big crack in the wall here at the @adndotcom office. #earthquake https://t.co/8XKXKHZfO5
Store is closed, ya'll. #alaska https://t.co/VONRwYqg3k
biggest earthquake yet....#alaska #earthquake but all are well https://t.co/o4oaVjcj0Z
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The quake broke store windows, opened cracks in a two-story building downtown, disrupted electrical service and disabled traffic lights, snarling traffic. It also threw a full-grown man out of his bathtub.

All flights were halted at the airport after the quake knocked out telephones and forced the evacuation of the control tower, and the 800-mile Alaska oil pipeline was shut down 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.

Jonathan Lettow was waiting with his 5-year-old daughter and other children for the school bus near their home in Wasilla when the quake struck. The children got on the ground while Lettow tried to keep them calm.

"It's one of those things where in your head, you think, 'OK, it's going to stop,' and you say that to yourself so many times in your head that finally you think, 'OK, maybe this isn't going to stop,'" he said.

Soon after the shaking stopped, the school bus pulled up and the children boarded, but the driver stopped at a bridge and refused to go across because of deep cracks in the road, Lettow said.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin tweeted that her home was damaged: "Our family is intact — house is not. I imagine that's the case for many, many others."

Officials opened an Anchorage convention center as an emergency shelter. Gov. Bill Walker issued a disaster declaration.

Cereal boxes and packages of batteries littered the floor of a grocery store, and picture frames and mirrors were knocked from living room walls.

People went back inside after the first earthquake struck, but the 5.7 aftershock about five minutes later sent them running back into the streets. A series of smaller aftershocks followed.

A tsunami warning was issued along Alaska's southern coast. Police in Kodiak, a city of 6,100 people on Kodiak Island, 250 miles (400 kilometers) south of Anchorage), warned residents to evacuate to higher ground immediately because a wave could hit within about 10 minutes.

Michael Burgy, a senior technician with the National Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer, Alaska, said the warning was automatically generated based on the quake's size and proximity to shore. Scientists monitored gauges to see if the quake generated big waves. Because there were none, they canceled the warning.

In Kenai, southwest of Anchorage, Brandon Slaton was alone at home and soaking in the bathtub when the earthquake struck. Slaton, who weighs 209 pounds, said it created a powerful back-and-forth sloshing in the bath, and before he knew it, he was thrown out of the tub by the waves.

His 120-pound mastiff panicked and tried to run down the stairs, but the house was swaying so much that the dog was thrown off its feet and into a wall and tumbled to the base of the stairs, Slaton said.

Slaton ran into his son's room after the shaking stopped and found his fish tank shattered and the fish on the floor, gasping for breath. He grabbed it and put it in another bowl.

"It was anarchy," he said. "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."

Alaska averages 40,000 earthquakes per year, with more large quakes than the 49 other states combined. Southern Alaska has a high risk of earthquakes because the Earth's plates slide past each other under the region.

Alaska has been hit by a number of powerful quakes over 7.0 magnitude in recent decades, including a 7.9 that hit last January southeast of Kodiak Island. But it is rare for a quake this big to strike so close such a heavily populated area.

David Harper was getting some coffee at a store when the low rumble began and intensified into something that sounded "like the building was just going to fall apart." Harper ran to the exit with other patrons.

"The main thought that was going through my head as I was trying to get out the door was, 'I want this to stop,'" he said. Harper said the quake was "significant enough that the people who were outside were actively hugging each other. You could tell that it was a bad one."

On March 27, 1964, Alaska was hit by a 9.2 earthquake, the strongest recorded in U.S. history, centered about 75 miles (120 kilometers) east of Anchorage. The quake, which lasted about 4½ minutes, and the tsunami it triggered claimed about 130 lives.

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AP writers Mark Thiessen in Anchorage; Becky Bohrer in Juneau; Gillian Flaccus in Portland, Ore.; and Gene Johnson in Seattle contributed.

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