Powerful earthquake rocks Anchorage, damaging buildings and roads

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A major earthquake struck Anchorage Friday morning, prompting a tsunami warning and severely damaging buildings and roads.

A tsunami warning was issued for the coastal areas of Alaska's Cook Inlet and southern Kenai Peninsula after an earthquake Friday with a preliminary magnitude of 7.0, according to a bulletin from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The warning was later canceled.

The US Geological Survey reported at least eight aftershocks following the first quake. The largest, registering 5.8, was located in the city of Anchorage.

Gov. Bill Walker issued a disaster declaration, according to a post on his Facebook page. There were no reports of fatalities or injuries as of noon PST.

Social media images show chaotic scenes, including children taking shelter under desks, courtroom staff running for safety, fallen items tumbling from shelves in a grocery store. Ceiling tiles were scattered across a floor in photos.

Michael West, the Alaska state seismologist, told CNN the 7.0 earthquake was felt up to 400 miles outside of Anchorage. West said damage reports across the region are just now beginning to arrive at the Alaska Earthquake Information Center.

The Dena'ina Civic and Convention Center in downtown Anchorage was opened as a safe shelter for people unable to get home.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District said all district students were safe.

The Anchorage Office of Emergency Management urged residents to shelter in place.

Two of the city's main hospitals -- Alaska Regional and Providence Alaska Medical Center -- sustained damage during the quake, according to hospital officials.

"I could tell this was bigger than anything I'd been in before, and it wasn't going to stop," resident Philip Peterson said. Peterson was in a multistory building in downtown Anchorage as the structure swayed and coffee mugs fells from tables and tiles from the ceiling. "I just jumped under my desk and had to ride it out."

Alaska resident Chanel Scherer was working at the Valley Radiation Therapy unit of Mat-Su Regional Medical Center in Palmer when the earthquake struck. She said the power went out and a gas leak was reported.

Scherer sent a picture to FOX 5 of the damaged roads.

Road damaged after earthquakes hit Alaska. (Photo: Chanel Scherer)

The quake knocked CNN affiliate KTUU off the air. Items fell from shelves at the station, news director Tracy Sabo told CNN.

Reporters at CNN affiliate KTVA described falling window panes at the station's offices. "The structure of the roof just collapsed," one of them said. "We can't even get into our studio right now. There were computers flying, cameras toppling over."

The Anchorage Police Department said in a statement that it was handling "multiple situations" and reported "major infrastructure damage" across the city.

The Federal Aviation Administration implemented a ground stop for flights into Ted Stevens Airport. "We do not yet know when flights into Anchorage will resume," FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer said.

Four airports were closed: Ted Stevens International Airport, Adak Airport, Merrill Field Airport and Fort Richardson Airport. The FAA said the tower at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport was evacuated. International Airport Road near Ted Stevens has been damaged, the airport said via Twitter, advising motorists to use extreme caution.

The earthquake had a depth of about 23.9 miles.

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