A powerful 8.2 magnitude earthquake has struck off the coast of Alaska, triggering a tsunami warning.
The shallow quake hit 56 miles (91 kilometers) southeast of the town of Perryville, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) said, with a tsunami warning in effect for south Alaska and the Alaskan peninsula.
The US government issued a tsunami warning for Alaska’s southeast, while authorities in Hawaii also issued a tsunami watch.
‘Hazardous tsunami waves for this earthquake are possible within the next three hours along some coasts,’ the US Tsunami Warning System said in a statement.
Perryville is a small village about 500 miles from Anchorage, Alaska’s biggest city.
An emergency alert sent to people’s phones read: ‘The National Weather Service has issued a TSUNAMI WARNING.
‘A series of powerful waves and strong currents may impact coasts near you. You are in danger. Get away from coastal waters. Move to high ground or inland now. Keep away from the coast until local officials say it is safe to return.’
Following the quake, authorities in Hawaii announced that they were also investigating whether there is a threat of a tsunami to the state.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said: ‘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,.’
The estimated earliest arrival time for a potential tsunami wave in Hawaii is 12:53 a.m. on Thursday local time, according to the Star Advertiser.
Honolulu, the capital of Hawaii, is around 2,400 miles (3,800 kilometers) away from Perryville.
A number of people took to social media following the earthquake to share their experiences, with one person sharing a screenshot of the emergency alert sent to people in Perryville.
Another shared a picture reportedly showing readings from a water buoy that registered unusually high waters shortly before 6am GMT on Thursday (around 10 pm local time on Wednesday), suggesting a tsunami could be active.
Another person wrote that they could feel the effects of the earthquake on the 16th floor of a building they were in at the time, while someone else said their husband told them the earthquake ‘lasted a long time. At least a minute went by on his clock,’ the Twitter user wrote.
Pictured: A Twitter user shares a screenshot of the emergency alert sent to people in Perryville, Alaska following the powerful earthquake
Pictured: A person on Twitter shares a picture reportedly showing readings from a water buoy that registered unusually high waters shortly before 6am GMT on Thursday (around 10pm local time on Wednesday), suggesting a tsunami is active
Pictured: People take to social media to share their experienes of the earthquake
A 7.5 magnitude earthquake caused tsunami waves in Alaska’s southern coast in October, but no casualties were reported.
Alaska is part of the seismically active Pacific Ring of Fire.
Alaska was hit by a 9.2-magnitude earthquake in March 1964, the strongest ever recorded in North America. It devastated Anchorage and unleashed a tsunami that slammed the Gulf of Alaska, the US west coast, and Hawaii.
More than 250 people were killed by the quake and the tsunami.
More to follow…
WHAT IS EARTH’S ‘RING OF FIRE’?
Earth’s so-called ‘Ring of Fire’ is a horseshoe-shaped geological disaster zone that is a hot bed for tectonic and volcanic activity.
Roughly 90 per cent of the world’s earthquakes occur in the belt, which is also home to more than 450 volcanoes.
The seismic region stretches along the Pacific Ocean coastlines, where the Pacific Plate grinds against other plates that form the Earth’s crust.
It loops from New Zealand to Chile, passing through the coasts of Asia and the Americas on the way.
In total, the loop makes up a 25,000-mile (40,000-kilometre) -long zone prone to frequent earthquakes and eruptions.
The region is susceptible to disasters because it is home to a vast number of ‘subduction zones’, areas where tectonic plates overlap.
Earthquakes are triggered when these plates scrape or slide underneath one another, and when that happens at sea it can spawn tsunamis.