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Tsunami warnings issued after magnitude 8.2 earthquake hits off Alaska

NBC News logo NBC News 7/29/2021 Kurt Chirbas and Henry Austin
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Tsunami warnings were issued for parts of Alaska and a tsunami watch was in place for Hawaii after an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 8.2 struck off the coast of the Alaska peninsula early Thursday.

The tremblor struck around 50 miles south of Perryville, a small town of 100 or so people around 500 miles to the south and west of Anchorage, Robert Sanders, a USGS geophysicist told NBC News.

“There could be damage and injuries from an event of this magnitude,” he said, adding that the sparsity of the population mitigated that risk but did not remove it.

“The biggest threat would be any potential tsunami risk,” he said.

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Tsunami warnings were put in place for parts of south Alaska, the Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutian Islands by the National Tsunami Warning Center. A tsunami advisory was also issued for southeast Alaska, but the National Weather Service said there was no tsunami threat to Anchorage.

“For other U.S. and Canadian Pacific coasts in North America, the level of tsunami danger is being evaluated,” it said in a bulletin.

A tsunami watch was also issued for Hawaii by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

"Based on all available data a tsunami may have been generated by this earthquake that could be destructive on coastal areas even far from the epicenter," PTWC said.

Sanders said the earthquake was initially measured at 7.2 magnitude but later revised up to 8.2. That was not “an uncommon occurrence,” he said.

Two other earthquakes with preliminary magnitudes of 6.2 and 5.6 occurred in the same area within a half hour of the first one, according to the U.S. Geological Survey reported.

He added that in July 2020 a 7.8 magnitude earthquake happened in the same region.

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