Tsunami warning canceled for Alaska, Canada

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JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A powerful earthquake sparked a tsunami warning for hundreds of miles of Alaskan and Canadian coastline, but the alert was canceled when no damaging waves were generated.

The magnitude 7.5 quake and tsunami warning that followed caused concern in some coastal communities, with alarms sounding and people rushing to higher ground for safety.

But the Alaska Tsunami Warning Center later said the waves were too small to pose a threat, reaching just six inches above normal sea level in places such as Sitka and Port Alexander.

“Initially, in the first 15 to 20 minutes, there might have been a bit of panic,” Sitka Police Chief Sheldon Schmitt told The Associated Press in a phone interview. But he said things calmed down as the town waited for the all clear.

The temblor struck at midnight Friday (1 a.m. PST Saturday) and was centered about 60 miles west of Craig, Alaska, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

“Houses shook; mine had things tossed from (the) wall,” Craig Police Chief Robert Ely said. But he added that there were “no reports of any injuries, no wave, no tidal movement seen.”

The tsunami warning was eventually expanded to include coastal areas from Cape Fairweather, Alaska, to the northern tip of Vancouver Island, Canada — an area extending more than 700 miles.

The center had warned that “significant widespread inundation of land is expected,” adding that dangerous coastal flooding was possible.

In its cancellation statement, the center said that some areas were seeing just small sea level changes.

“A tsunami was generated during this event but no longer poses a threat,” the center said.

Alaska winter will challenge Shell ship salvage

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A veteran marine salvager says it could take until spring to remove a grounded oil-drilling ship from rocks near a remote Alaska island.

A Royal Dutch Shell barge called the Kulluk ran aground during a fierce year-end storm, and more than 600 people are working on its recovery. But Dan Magone, who has worked on other major groundings in Alaska, says he’d be surprised if they can remove it before spring due to the fury of the North Pacific winter.

Smit Salvage, the Dutch company hired to salvage the Kulluk, referred calls to Shell, which has said it’s too early to predict when the barge might be moved.

Shell has reported superficial damage above the deck, but there’s no sign the hull has been breached or that oil has spilled.

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