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Updated Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 05:57 AM

Magnitude 5.8 quake shakes Anchorage, Alaska

By MARK THIESSEN
Associated Press

A strong earthquake Monday was felt over a 175-mile swath of Alaska, including the state's largest city, but there were no immediate reports of damage beyond items knocked off shelves.

The Alaska and West Coast Tsunami Warning Center said the magnitude-5.8 earthquake occurred at about 4:45 p.m. and was centered about 30 miles northwest of Anchorage. The Alaska Earthquake Information Center said the center was 27 miles west of Anchorage.

Guy Urban, a geophysicist at the tsunami warning center, said the quake wasn't expected to generate a tsunami.

He said the center had reports of residents feeling the quake throughout the Anchorage metro area and beyond. It was also felt as far south as the fishing community of Homer, 125 miles southwest of Anchorage, and in Willow, 50 miles north of the city.

"No reports of damage thus far," said Anchorage police spokesman Lt. Dave Parker, who felt the quake at his home in Wasilla, about 45 miles north of Anchorage. "Just a little shaker-upper," he said.

Beyond the very minor damage of items being knocked off shelves, there were no reports of building collapses or major structural damage, Parker said.

"It hit like a bam, really hard," said John Owens, who felt the quake at his home in East Anchorage.

That was followed by low shaking, which he estimated to last about 30 seconds. "And then it ended with a second bam," he said.

Karen Whitworth, an artist with an online gallery, was in her Wasilla studio when the rumbling began. She felt lightheaded as if her inner ears lost their sense of balance.

"Your Spidey senses are tingling," she said. Her paintings were swaying on the wall and the window blinds were going back and forth, but nothing was damaged.

It seemed to last more than a minute, but Whitworth wasn't scared enough to get out of her chair. Her husband shepherded their young son and daughter under a door.

After it was over, her children chatted excitedly what fun it was.

Alaska is seismically active and has frequent earthquakes, although most are too small or too remote to be felt.

Alaska is the site of the biggest earthquake recorded in North America - a magnitude-9.2 quake on Good Friday 1964 that struck 75 miles east of Anchorage on Prince William Sound. The quake and the ensuing tsunami killed 115 people in Alaska and 16 people in California.

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Associated Press writers Rachel D'Oro in Anchorage and Mary Hudetz in Phoenix contributed to this report.


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