Earthquake rattles Alaska

By Brian Ries and Jessie Yeung, CNN

Updated 5:57 PM ET, Mon December 3, 2018
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3:35 p.m. ET, November 30, 2018

Seismologist to Alaskans: Expect aftershocks for months, maybe years

Aftershocks are expected after this morning’s Alaska quake, according to Dr. Lucy Jones, a seismologist with the California Institute of Technology.

She says the average sequence of aftershocks for a quake this size is a 5.8, but that it could be larger than that average figure. She advises to expect many more aftershocks from today’s event.

”We think the number dies off with time, but the relative distribution from large to small is constant,” and weeks to months later, aftershocks will follow, she explains.

For example, the last 5-magnitude aftershock that followed the 1994 Northridge, California, quake was three years after the original event.

There have been at least 30 aftershocks so far for this quake.

Dr. Elizabeth Cochran of the United States Geological Survey says the Anchorage quake was a “normal faulting event” among plates under Alaska.

2:37 p.m. ET, November 30, 2018

Map shows where Alaskans felt the earthquake — and how strong it was

CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar just walked viewers through a map that shows where Alaskans felt the shaking — yellow in the video below represents "strong" and orange "very strong" or "severe."

A big concern for the area near the epicenter is what's called liquefaction, a process where the soil becomes saturated with water, which can cause it to erupt into torrents and topple buildings and destroy roads.

Even in downtown Anchorage, a lot of the coastal regions are at significant risk for the potential for that liquefaction to take place, according to Chinchar.

Watch below: Latest updates on Alaska damage

4:35 p.m. ET, November 30, 2018

Home camera captures the moment the earthquake hit

Eric Nelius's home camera caught the earthquake on film as it hit his home in Fairbanks, Alaska — almost 350 miles from the earthquake's epicenter in Anchorage.

In the video, Nelius' wife rushes to grab her children and dogs as the walls begin shaking and a loud rumbling fills the air.

The family is now safe, though their possessions sustained some damage.

Watch it here:

2:32 p.m. ET, November 30, 2018

Trump, in Buenos Aires, has been briefed on the Alaska earthquake

President Trump has been briefed on the Alaska earthquake and is monitoring damage reports, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said on Twitter Friday afternoon.

"We are praying for the safety of all Alaskans!" she added.

2:31 p.m. ET, November 30, 2018

Alaska governor issues disaster declaration

 Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
 Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker has issued a declaration of disaster after Friday morning’s earthquake, according to a post on his Facebook page.

Gov. Walker also said he is in "direct contact" with the White House, and is coordinating with emergency responders.

"From the incident command center established at Joint Base Elmendorf and Richardson we are closely monitoring reports of aftershocks and assessing damage to roads, bridges and buildings," he wrote.

"My family is praying for yours. God bless Alaska."

2:23 p.m. ET, November 30, 2018

Two of Anchorage's main hospitals sustain damage but the ERs remain open

From CNN's Wayne Drash

Two of Anchorage's main hospitals sustained damage following the 7.0 earthquake near the city.

Kjerstin Lastufka, a spokeswoman at Alaska Regional hospital, says the hospital is assessing the main building and offices on campus. “We’re seeing some cracks in the walls and some cracks in the floors, and a little bit of water leaks.”

The hospital emergency room is open, but all elective surgeries and appointments have been canceled. They're not seeing an influx of patients yet, but they are prepared to handle additional patients.

She was in her office at the time of the quake; pictures fell off the wall and plants toppled over on window sills. "It went on for quite some time," Lastufka said.

Providence Alaska Medical Center also announced that though there was some building damage, their ER remains open. 

"There are no reports of injuries at the hospital at this time. However, the hospital suffered isolated damage, such as multiple water leaks. Hospital staff continue to evaluate the extent of this damage. All scheduled elective surgeries have been canceled and will be rescheduled."
2:20 p.m. ET, November 30, 2018

Anchorage assembly member: "Everything shook off the walls"

Anchorage Assembly Member Pete Peterson tells CNN the 7.0 earthquake hit just after he had gotten his kids onto the bus at 8:29 a.m.

"Everything shook off the walls. The prints fell off the walls. Glass broke," Peterson says.

Peterson says they lost power at his condo, but he has not seen any damage to the building, and has heard from friends in downtown Anchorage who have not lost power.

2:19 p.m. ET, November 30, 2018

Tsunami warnings have been canceled

According to the National Tsunami Warning Center, the Tsunami warning is canceled for the Cook Inlet area and Southern Kenai Peninsula in Alaska.

No tsunami danger exists, and no destructive tsunami has been reported.

2:11 p.m. ET, November 30, 2018

Airport tower evacuated, flights diverted and placed under ground stop

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says they have evacuated the tower at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.

Flights that were en route are being diverted, and flights that are bound for this airport but have not taken off yet are under a ground stop.

There are about 20 flights initially affected, but this preliminary number may change as officials continue assessing the damage.

Meanwhile, outside the airport, there are cracked and collapsed roads. "Use EXTREME Caution if you are driving," the airport tweeted.

According to the FAA website, there are currently four airports closed: Ted Stevens International Airport, Adak Airport, Merrill Field Airport & Fort Richardson Airport.