Major Quake Rocks
A powerful earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.0 jolted Seattle, Washington, on Wednesday. The largest quake to strike Seattle was a 7.4, making this the second strongest in the state's history. Witnesses in Seattle said the ground shook for about 45 seconds and was followed by a strong ground roll. The long lasting tremor was felt as far away as Portland, Oregon.
The quake struck inland and won't generate a tsunami, according to officials. The only tsunami effect would be a result of landslide effects. Aftershocks are likely.
"Everybody just started running
... because we were just scared," a witness told KIRO television
in Seattle. The station broadcast pictures of broken windows
and people running out of tall buildings. "It felt like
a football field was just rolling and it was back and forth ...
but it was freaky," said another witness.
The quake struck at 10:55 a.m. PST, said officials at the West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer, Alaska. It was centered about 10 miles northeast of Olympia and 35 miles southwest of Seattle and felt in Salt Lake City, 700 miles away.
There are reports of power outages and scattered damage to homes and businesses and phone and communications systems are jammed with people trying to find out about their loved ones. The Seattle-King County Red Cross Chapter, operating on generator power, is ready to respond to immediate relief needs.
``Everyone was panicked,'' said Paulette DeRooy, who was in an elevator descending from the 15th floor from a downtown Seattle building when the temblor struck. She and several others scrambled onto a fire escape. About 30 people were stuck at the top of the Space Needle until the elevator was deemed safe, however they are now safely on the ground.
There were no immediate reports of deaths or serious injuries, but officials said they would not be unexpected.
In downtown Portland, office buildings
swayed for 20 to 30 seconds, and television stations were deluged
by calls from viewers reporting rolling motion across the area.
Michelle Noonan of suburban Lake Oswego said the quake was strong
enough to move things around in her house
A quake with a magnitude of 6 can cause
severe damage, while one with a magnitude of 7 can cause widespread,
heavy damage. A 5.0 quake that struck the Puget Sound area on
Jan. 28, 1995, was described as the strongest to hit the area
in 30 years, since a 6.5 earthquake struck April 29, 1965, injuring
at least 31 people. In 1949, a 7.1 quake near Olympia killed