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Massive Earthquake Strikes Alaska

Mar. 27, 1964 - A destructive, death-dealing earthquake struck the city of Anchorage and several smaller Alaskan towns today. In Juneau, the Alaskan capital, the office of Governor William Egan said at least 50 persons died in Anchorage.

Civil defense officials in Anchorage reported that a 10-block area in the downtown section was “extensively damaged.” Many buildings were reported flattened by the shock, which was so strong it knocked detection devices off the seismograph at Cal Tech, Pasadena, Calif.

Instruments at the University of California at Berkeley recorded the shock at 8.6 on the Richter scale of magnitude. Heavy damage from the quake was reported in Seward, Valdez, and Homer. All are situated along the rugged Alaskan coast.

The Defense Department in Washington announced that U.S. Air Force personnel had been removed from Kodiak Island because of a tidal wave generated by the earthquake. Two 15-foot tidal waves swept through the streets of Kodiak, a fishing community of 3,500.

The town of Valdez, a fishing community about 150 miles east of Anchorage, was also struck by a tidal wave, and damage was reported heavy. Twenty-six persons at Valdez were unaccounted for, and most were thought to have been on a waterfront dock which collapsed when the wave struck.

In Hawaii, a tidal wave alert was sounded, and civil defense officials and police began the evacuation of approximately 150,000 persons residing along the dangerous beach and lowland areas. Most of Waikiki Beach was evacuated, and planes flew over remote villages warning residents by loudspeakers to go to high ground.

Regular communications were out from Alaska, and the specific extent of damage remains unclear. However, one civil defense report said that large portions of Seward were in flames.


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