ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 8.2 struck off Alaska’s Kodiak Island early Tuesday, prompting a tsunami warning for a large swath of coastal Alaska and Canada’s British Columbia while the remainder of the U.S. West Coast was under a watch.
The strong earthquake was recorded about 175 miles southeast of Kodiak Island. Warnings from the National Weather Service sent to cellphones in Alaska warned: “Emergency Alert. Tsunami danger on the coast. Go to high ground or move inland.”
Kodiak officials warned residents to evacuate if they lived in low-lying areas.
A dispatcher at the Kodiak police department answered a call from The Associated Press by saying, “If this about the tsunami, you need to get to higher ground immediately.”
People reported on social media that the quake was felt hundreds of miles away, in Anchorage.
Keith Perkins, who lives in the southeast Alaska community of Sitka, arrived at the high school early Tuesday morning, after an alarm on his cellphone alerted him of the tsunami warning. He says the city’s sirens also went off later.
He said people on Facebook were chattering back and forth about whether this was real or not and what they should do.
Given the magnitude of the earthquake, Perkins said he thought it best to head to school, the tsunami evacuation point, even though in the past he felt his home was at a “high-enough spot.”
“I figured I’d probably just better play it safe,” he said.
He said police officers were directing traffic and the parking lot at the school was filling up. He said he saw some people carrying suitcases or backpacks. Perkins said he didn’t bring anything along.