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Alaska Rocked by Major Quake - 2002-11-04

A major earthquake rocked a sparsely populated section of central Alaska, Sunday, damaging support structures to the Trans-Alaska Pipeline and opening large cracks in roads and highways. Only one injury was reported. A woman broke her arm while fleeing her home. The quake of magnitude 7.9 was felt over a large area.

The earthquake was centered 145 kilometers south of Fairbanks. It struck just after 1300 local GMT and was strongly felt in Fairbanks, as well as Anchorage, more than 400 kilometers south of the epicenter.

Cracks some two meters wide were reported in roads and major highways. A spokesman for the company that operates the Trans-Alaska Pipeline says support structures for the pipeline were damaged, but the pipeline, itself, is intact. The pipeline was shut down Sunday, while workers surveyed the damage.

According to scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey, the earthquake occurred along the Denali Fault, at a shallow depth. Shallow quakes are usually felt over a large area.

Earthquakes of magnitude seven or larger are capable of heavy damage, if they strike near a populated region. A 1964 quake, measuring 9.2, killed 131 people in Anchorage and south-central Alaska.