Government: No Filipino casualty in Canada quake

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Sunday, October 28, 2012


MANILA (Updated) -- No Filipino has been reported killed or injured after the magnitude 7.7 earthquake that hit off the west coast of Canada, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Sunday.

Records show that there are some 450,000 Filipinos in Canada.

On Sunday morning (Manila time), a magnitude 7.7 earthquake struck off the west coast of Canada, but there were no reports of major damage.

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“No Filipino was reported to have been affected by the earthquake,” said DFA spokesperson Raul Hernandez, quoting information from the Philippine consulate in Vancouver.

He added that the quake happened in a “remote and sparsely-populated area” in British Columbia.

Residents in parts of British Columbia were evacuated but the province appeared to escape the biggest quake in Canada since 1949 largely unscathed.

“Our consulate continues to monitor developments and is in touch with Canadian authorities and Filipino community leaders in the area,” said Hernandez.

The US Geological Survey said the powerful quake hit the Queen Charlotte Islands just after 8 p.m. local time Saturday at a depth of about three miles (five kilometers) and was centered 96 miles (155 kilometers) south of Masset, British Columbia.

It was felt across a wide area in British Columbia, both on its Pacific islands and on the mainland.

"It looks like the damage and the risk are at a very low level," said Shirley Bond, British Columbia's minister responsible for emergency management said. "We're certainly grateful."

The National Weather Service issued a tsunami warning for coastal areas of British Columbia, southern Alaska and Hawaii, but later downgraded the warning to an advisory for southern Alaska and British Columbia. They also issued an advisory for areas of northern California and southern Oregon.

The first wave of the small tsunami, about four inches (101.6 millimeters), hit the southeast Alaska coastal community of Craig.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center originally said there was no threat to the islands of Hawaii, but a warning was issued later Saturday and it was only after 7 p.m. Sunday that the warning was downgraded to an advisory, ending the threat of serious damage.

A small craft advisory is in effect until Sunday morning. The center said the first tsunami wave could hit the islands by about 10:30 p.m. local time.

Dennis Sinnott of the Canadian Institute of Ocean Science said a 69-centimeter (27 inch) wave was recorded off Langara Island on the northeast tip of Haida Gwaii, formerly called the Queen Charlotte Islands.

The islands are home to about 5,000 people, many of them members of the Haida aboriginal group. Another 55 centimeter (21 inch) wave hit Winter Harbour on the northeast coast of Vancouver Island.

"It appears to be settling down," he said. "It does not mean we won't get another small wave coming through."

Gerard Fryer of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said Saturday night that the first waves are usually not the biggest for tsunamis in Hawaii. He said it could be as long as seven hours before the warning is canceled if waves get bigger.

The National Weather Service said there are reports of water quickly receding in bays, including Hilo Bay on the Big Island.

Tsunami waves are stronger and different from normal beach waves. Fryer said three-foot tsunami waves would be strong enough to flood two blocks in from shore and destroy property at ground level.

Canada's largest earthquake since 1700 was an 8.1-magnitude quake on August 22, 1949 off the coast of British Columbia, according to the Canadian government's Natural Resources website.

It occurred on the Queen Charlotte Fault in what the department called Canada's equivalent of the San Andreas Fault — the boundary between the Pacific and North American plates that runs underwater along the west coast of the Haida Gwaii.

Saturday's quake was the strongest in Canada since 1970 when a 7.4-magnitude quake struck south of the Haida Gwaii.

The USGS said the temblor shook the waters around British Columbia and was followed by a 5.8-magnitude aftershock after several minutes. Several other aftershocks were reported. (HDT/AP/Sunnex)

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