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Scenes of chaos as 7.0 earthquake rocks Alaska

A magnitude 7.0 earthquake that struck near Anchorage, Alaska, caused extensive damage to buildings and roads, sent residents scurrying for cover and triggered a tsunami warning for a time, authorities said. CNN's Brian Todd has the details.

Posted: Dec 2, 2018 8:34 AM
Updated: Dec 2, 2018 8:46 AM

Residents of Anchorage, Alaska, had barely had begun their workday when the ground began violently shaking Friday.

A 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit around 8:30 a.m. (12:30 p.m. ET) and left people in a panic, knocked TV stations off the air and took out phone and power service.

At KTVA-TV, a CNN affiliate, equipment was left hanging from the ceiling, windows were blown out and the roof collapsed.

Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz said it was clear this earthquake was bigger than what the city normally experiences.

"We live in earthquake country, so folks here are used to small tremblers," Berkowitz said. "But this was a big one."

No fatalities were reported.

Teachers 'keeping us under our tables'

High school student Alyson Petrie dove under tables in her classroom.

"I'm shaking and our teachers are keeping us under our tables and telling us there will be an after shocks maybe in 5 minutes, or tomorrow, we don't know," she tweeted. "I'm in the art classroom and everything is literally destroyed."

The Anchorage School District asked parents to pick up students when it was safe. The district posted on Facebook that it was assessing damage and safety at buildings.

Dimond High School senior Anna Krsnak was in second period when the earthquake hit. She told CNN that students were evacuated after the first main aftershock.

Another Dimond High School student, Gabe Martinez, was in orchestra class, so he had no desks to use as shields.

"All we had were music stands and small chairs," he said. "I had to get under a small chair to protect myself."

'Things just fell everywhere'

A security camera captured the reaction of a mother as she held her son during the first hit of the earthquake as the chandelier swings in the kitchen.

A man's security camera captured his car rocking and what he said were transformers exploding in the background.

It was the first earthquake Anchorage resident Melissa Lohr has experienced.

"I was on my way to work this morning and all the street lights cut off," she said. "The car just rocked. No one really knew what was going. It was really scary. And then the aftershock came pretty quickly after that, too."

Her car was sliding uncontrollably from side to side. "It felt like the ground was going to open up underneath me," she said.

Municipal Light & Power said between 7,000 and 10,000 residents lost power for a time.

After 37 years in Alaska, Kristin Dossett said this was the most violent quake she's felt.

"It shook like I have never felt anything shake before," she said. "It just didn't stop. It kept going and got louder and louder, and things just fell everywhere -- everything off my dressers, off my bookcases, my kitchen cupboard. Just broken glass everywhere."

On Facebook, longtime resident Mike Lewis said it was the strongest quake he's ever felt, too. Lewis posted a picture of his kitchen, strewn with items and debris after the earthquake.

"I've lived in earthquake country my whole life, and this was by far the worst," he said.

Gabrielle Black, a waitress at the Middle Way Café in Anchorage, said things around the store began falling around her.

"You immediately drop to your knees and try to find the safest area," she said. "Thankfully for us, we have good counters to go underneath. You're just under there holding your neck hoping it would stop, hoping that everyone that you love is OK and saying your prayers.

"I'm just scared it's going to happen again."

Damage to hospitals and roads

Two of the city's main hospitals were damaged, but their emergency rooms remained open.

"We're seeing some cracks in the walls and some cracks in the floors, and a little bit of water leaks," Alaska Regional Hospital spokeswoman Kjerstin Lastufka said.

Providence Alaska Medical Center kept its ER open and was evaluating damage and water leaks. It canceled elective surgeries.

Prem Niroula captured a video when the earthquake first hit.

"Lord have mercy," a woman says in the video.

In the nearby Matanuska-Susitna Borough, multiple roads were closed, collapsed and cracked.

"It's important for people to realize that ... we're the size of Delaware, so the fact that the roads in and out are closed is significant," Berkowitz said.

"We're a tough, resilient group of people here. We know how to rely on one another. This is a community that's dealt with earthquakes and disasters before, and we have the right kind of attitude to deal with this."

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