Alaska's largest earthquake in decades rattles the Chignik communities

Jul 29, 2021


“Things were falling out of the cabinets, and drawers were flopping open. I looked out and my car was jumping around on the road. There was a lot of landslides here, too," said Gene Carlson, who was in Chignik Bay when the earthquake hit.

Screenshot of the Alaska Earthquake Center map.



Alaska’s largest earthquake in decades rattled communities in the Chignik area Wednesday night. No serious injuries have been reported. 

The magnitude 8.2 earthquake offshore of the Alaska Peninsula struck at 10:15 p.m., prompting the National Tsunami Center to issue warnings for much of the Gulf of Alaska coastline. The epicenter was about 65 miles southeast of Perryville, a community of about 100 people

“A tremendous amount of shaking. It was massive,” said Gerald Kosbruk, the president of the Native Village of Perryville.

Kosbruk heard a rumble about a quarter after 10 and people evacuated, driving to the tsunami shelter on a nearby hill. 

Kosbruk said any injuries were minor -- some people had scrapes and bruises. He checked his mother’s house this morning and found it was among the structures in the village that had shifted.

“Her porch was moved off-center and tilted quite a bit. There’s some folks with some smaller buildings that may have some more damage,” he said.

Commercial fisherman Gene Carlson was in Chignik Bay, about 70 miles north of the epicenter. He said this quake was particularly violent.

“Things were falling out of the cabinets, and drawers were flopping open. I looked out and my car was jumping around on the road," he said. "There was a lot of landslides here, too. You could see just clouds of -- it was just dust everywhere. So yeah, then we started gathering ourselves together cause with one like that you never know if you’re going to get a tidal wave. So people were running all over, trying to get in cars and get up on the hill.”

Carlson said he hadn’t heard of any damage in Chignik Bay as of Thursday morning.

“We did watch the tide," he said. "I think we had a little semi-tidal wave here cause the tide went out and then it came back in pretty good cause we were watching it from the hill.” 

John Clutter was in the Chignik Bay harbor on his fishing boat when he felt the boat start to shake.

“The boat bounced up and down and shook like a concrete vibrator for about a minute,” he said.

Clutter listened to aftershocks well into the morning and heard rocks tumble down the surrounding hills.

“Every five, 10 minutes there would be a major -- you could hear lots of rocks moving, and falling and crashing down,” he said.

People across a wide swathe of the Gulf of Alaska evacuated low-lying areas last night in case of a tsunami. 

Officials said any waves were less than a foot tall. 

The warning was lifted at 1:30 a.m. on Thursday.

The National Tsunami Warning Center recommends that anyone with damage from the earthquake report to their local emergency manager or the National Weather Service.

This is a developing story and was updated with additional information.

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