Tsunami warning cancelled for Alaska, Canada after 7.5 quake

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - A powerful earthquake sparked a tsunami warning for hundreds of miles of Alaskan and Canadian coastline, but the alert was cancelled when no damaging waves were generated.

The magnitude 7.5 quake and tsunami warning that followed caused concern in some coastal communities, with alarms sounding and people rushing to higher ground for safety.

But the Alaska Tsunami Warning Centre later said the waves were too small to pose a threat, reaching just 15cm above normal sea level in places such as Sitka and Port Alexander.

"Initially, in the first 15 to 20 minutes, there might have been a bit of panic," said Sitka Police Chief Sheldon Schmitt. But he said things calmed down as the town waited for the all clear.

The temblor struck at midnight Friday (0900 GMT) and was centred about 95km west of Craig, Alaska, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said.

Seismologist Jana Pursley of the USGS said the quake was followed by six aftershocks, the strongest of which registered a 5.1 and came nearly four hours after the initial quake.

"Houses shook; mine had things tossed from the wall," Craig Police Chief Robert Ely said. But he added that there were "no reports of any injuries, no wave, no tidal movement seen."

The tsunami warning was eventually expanded to include coastal areas from Cape Fairweather, Alaska, to the northern tip of Vancouver Island, Canada - an area extending more than 1,125km.

The centre had warned that "significant widespread inundation of land is expected," adding that dangerous coastal flooding was possible.

In its cancellation statement, the centre said that some areas were seeing just small sea level changes.

"A tsunami was generated during this event but no longer poses a threat," the centre said.