- The Washington Times - Monday, November 4, 2002

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) A major earthquake rocked a sparsely populated area of interior Alaska early yesterday afternoon, triggering an automatic shutdown of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, and cracking highways and roads.
The magnitude 7.9 quake, centered 90 miles south of Fairbanks, was strongly felt in Anchorage about 270 miles to the south. It hit at 1:13 p.m. Alaska Standard Time, said Bruce Turner of the Alaska Tsunami Warning Center.
Only one injury was reported; a man in Mentasta broke his arm after slipping on stairs during the quake, said State Trooper spokesman Greg Wilkinson.
Troopers responded to several reports of damaged roads in the area, including a 3-foot crack opened up in the main road between Fairbanks and Anchorage, said Lt. Lee Farmer.
"Anybody with one of those lowriders out of Anchorage probably doesn't want to head that way," Lt. Farmer said.
The quake triggered the trans-Alaska pipeline's automatic detection system, said Mike Heatwole, Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. spokesman. Operators then manually shut the pipeline down shortly after 2 p.m.
Mr. Heatwole said helicopters were flying the length of the 800-mile pipeline and ground crews are physically inspecting for damage. None had been detected by late afternoon.
Earthquakes above magnitude 7 are considered major capable of widespread, heavy damage. Effects were felt all over the continent, from Seattle to New Orleans.
"This earthquake was shallow, and the energy went directly into the surface, and that is what causes these affects so far away," said Dale Grant, a geophysicist at the earthquake information center.
Mr. Grant said he received calls from nuclear power facilities in various states including Minnesota and Washington that reported unusual water movement.
In Mandeville, across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans more than 3,000 miles from the quake Carol Barcia, 47, saw boats bounce around from the deck of her house.
"One poor guy across the canal from us fell off his sailboat," she said.


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