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Earthquake off B.C. coast triggers tsunami warning

Oct 28 2012
A 7.7 magnitude earthquake struck B.C.'s west coast on Saturday night. The circle icon shows the epicentre. The red area was under a tsunami warning and the orange under a less-serious tsunami advisory. 

A 7.7 magnitude earthquake struck B.C.'s west coast on Saturday night. The circle icon shows the epicentre. The red area was under a tsunami warning and the orange under a less-serious tsunami advisory.

Photograph by: West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center , .

Some Island residents were being warned to stay off beaches Saturday night, after a powerful 7.7-magnitude earthquake in the Haida Gwaii area triggered tsunami warnings.
In the Capital Regional District, Kelli Kryzanowski of Emergency Management B.C. said late Saturday that sea fluctuations could measure about half a metre.
No widespread damage or evacuations were expected, but people were warned to stay away from low coastal areas.
The provincial emergency co-ordination centre issued a bulletin saying a low-level tsunami could affect marinas and other coastal infrastructure or create strong currents in harbours and coastal areas.
A tsunami advisory was issued for the north and central coast, as well as the northern end of Vancouver Island and the southern tip of the Island — from Jordan River to Greater Victoria, including the Saanich Peninsula.
“It looks like the damage and the risk is at a very low level,” Justice Minister Shirley Bond said just after 11 p.m.
By 3 a.m. the advisory was called off for all areas of coastal B.C.
Kryzanowski said the first wave off Vancouver Island was 28 centimetres, followed by 44 centimetres.
A 12-centimetre wave was recorded off Tofino, where tsunami sirens had earlier sounded and residents and visitors headed for high ground.
One traveller said the more than 100 carloads of people who travelled the tsunami route from Tofino to higher ground remained calm and orderly.
However, some were confused by an announcement accompanying the alarm that told people to dial their local radio station — non-locals didn’t know where on the dial to find that station.
Groom and bride Colin and Ryan Gentles were about to cut their wedding cake at Long Beach Lodge in Tofino when their wedding party was alerted by staff of the tsunami advisory. The music had obliterated the sound of the warning siren.
“People scattered,” Ryan Gentles, 29, said. “There was a little bit of panic,” added Peter Sheldon of Vancouver.
The bride said the wedding party — all immediate family members, some in kilts — made it to designated high ground.
The bride said the tsunami scare only made her special day more memorable. “I don’t think anyone can top this wedding story,” Ryan said.
The bride and groom are both adventure-tourism specialists but admitted Saturday that this was more than they bargained for when they planned a trip to Tofino.
Brandy Rimney of Calgary was celebrating her mother’s 60th birthday at Cox Bay Beach Resort when she heard the tsunami siren. “We were a little bit freaked out,” Rimney said. The 15 family members from Calgary and Vancouver got into cars and headed to high ground.
“Some of the kids are sleeping, some are not sure what’s going on and mom’s worried,” she said.
The quake was felt across an area that included Haida Gwaii, Prince Rupert, Quesnel and Houston.
Residents of the north-central coast felt the ground roll and watched hydro poles sway as the powerful earthquake jolted the coast. Bella Coola resident Carsten Ginsburg said the quake lasted about 40 seconds.
“It shook everything. The electricity went out, the power lines were swinging all over the place and stuff was falling off the shelves.”
The agency reported that the quake struck just after 8 p.m., its epicentre 17 kilometres below ground about 200 kilometres south-southwest of Prince Rupert.
Several aftershocks were reported, including one 5.8-magnitude tremor.
charnett@timescolonist.com

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