earthquake

The rumbling started on the afternoon of May 22, 1960. Sergio Barrientos, then about 8 years old, was walking down a street in his hometown in southern Chile when the ground started to shake. He remembers electrical wires swinging from the telephone poles — so violently that they slapped each other from opposite sides of the street.

"At the same time, I saw some of the chimneys falling down through the roofs of the houses," says Barrientos.

Italy's state museums are donating their proceeds today to reconstruction efforts, following a massive earthquake that killed at least 291 people and nearly leveled three medieval towns.

Culture Minister Dario Franceschini is appealing to people to visit the country's museums to show their solidarity with the victims of the powerful temblor, as NPR's Eleanor Beardsley tells our Newscast unit.

Italy has started to bury its dead following a devastating earthquake on Wednesday that killed at least 290 people and left whole towns in ruins. The country has declared Saturday a national day of mourning for the quake's victims.

Reporting from a state funeral in the town of Ascoli Piceno, NPR's Eleanor Beardsley described a community overcome with grief. She said the service was held in a gymnasium, where 35 caskets were laid out. "People cried and held each other," Eleanor said.

Trust the Italians to meet disaster with food.

While nobody is making light of Wednesday's earthquake that struck Amatrice, a small town in the Appenine mountains about 70 miles as the crow flies from Rome, several independent efforts have sprung up to use the town's signature dish — spaghetti all' amatriciana — to help relief efforts.

More than a day after a powerful earthquake struck central Italy, rescue teams are desperately searching for survivors in the rubble of once-charming mountain towns.

At least 241 people died in the disaster, according to civil protection officials, The Associated Press reports. Many of the devastated communities are difficult to reach, and the exact number of missing persons isn't known.

A magnitude 6.8 earthquake shook central Myanmar around 5 p.m. local time on Wednesday, damaging buildings and sending people running into the streets across the region.

Updated at 12:50 a.m. ET on Thursday:

Officials in Italy say the death toll has risen to 247. The Associated Press quotes the country's civil protection agency, after it announced updated figures about 27 hours after the earthquake struck. Urgent search efforts continue.

Original Post:

Imagine being on a rural island when a major earthquake hits off the coast. After five minutes of shaking that registers 9.0 on the Richter scale, devastation is all around. Food, water, medicine and fuel are in short supply.  Along with power and phone service outages, all bridges and ferry connections are down.

Hundreds of search and rescue experts from 13 countries are joining Ecuadorian rescue teams, the nation's foreign minister says, to try to save the lives of anyone who survived a magnitude 7.8 earthquake on Saturday and remains trapped beneath the rubble.

But hour by hour, the odds dwindle that anyone has survived this long.

Just more than 24 hours after powerful earthquakes struck a large island in southwest Japan, an even stronger quake has hit the same area.

The Associated Press quotes a Japanese official as saying 19 people were killed, bringing the total for the two big quakes to 29.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

To live in the Northwest is, to some extent, to roll the dice. If you lived through the 1965 Seattle earthquake, or the Nisqually quake in 2001, or if you just read the New Yorker article about the “really big one” destined to hit our region, you know this well: There are forces under our feet that could just shrug our cities off into the abyss.

The push and pull of continental plates is so huge compared with a puny little human. And yet, for a man named Kelcy Allen, the act of a child shielded him from the seismic forces. He’s spent decades feeling grateful to the boy who died saving his life.

The company that built a 17-story apartment building that collapsed during Saturday's earthquake in Taiwan no longer exists, but three of its former executives have been arrested as prosecutors look into allegations of shoddy building practices.

More than 24 hours after a deadly magnitude-6.4 earthquake struck Taiwan, rescuers are still pulling survivors out of the rubble.

The earthquake hit at roughly 4 a.m. local time on Saturday (Friday afternoon in U.S. time zones), just two days before the Lunar New Year celebrations. The city of Tainan was the hardest hit — and a single building, a 17-story apartment building that toppled like a folding accordion, caused most of the casualties.

At least 26 people are confirmed dead from the quake, 24 of them from the building collapse, The Associated Press reports.

Federal agencies and university scientists are making progress on the deployment of an earthquake early warning system for the West Coast. That was one of the messages from a half-day earthquake preparedness summit hosted by the White House Tuesday.

More than 300 people are dead the day after an earthquake hit Afghanistan and shook surrounding countries. At least 2,000 people are injured, NPR's Philip Reeves reports on Morning Edition.

"This is a very remote landscape," Reeves notes, "and it can take a long time before you find out exactly who's been impacted by a disaster of this kind."

At least eight people were reported killed following a powerful earthquake off Chile's coast Wednesday night. The 8.3-magnitude quake triggered tsunami warnings across the Pacific, from California and Hawaii to New Zealand.

Chile's government ordered a million people to evacuate their homes on the coast, fearing a repeat of a 2010 earthquake and tsunami that killed more than 500 people. But fears of a devastating tsunami in Chile eased Thursday morning, and the alert was rescinded.

AP Images

A recent story in the New Yorker, which draws from the latest geological science,  says that within 50 years there's a good chance a massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami will destroy a sizable portion of the Pacific Northwest and potentially kill 13,000 people in the process.

And according to, "The Really Big One," the odds of this Cascadia quake within five decades are one in three for a large quake and one in ten for a more massive one. 

So KPLU asked people on the streets of Seattle if they’re concerned about an earthquake and what, if anything, they’ve done to prepare for it. Click on the audio link (above) to hear their comments.

AP Images

One member of a Seattle-based climbing group's Everest team died Saturday as a result of an avalanche that hit the mountain following the Nepal earthquake. But several other local climbing organizations reported that their teams were safe. 

Among those is Alpine Ascents, the climbing and expedition company that has called Seattle its home for 27 years. The company had six clients and three guides on Mount Everest  at the time of the 7.8 magnitude quake.  

In December of 1872, an earthquake shook the Pacific Northwest so hard that a Seattle resident described watching near-tidal waves roil Lake Union.

And it wasn’t just Seattle; the quake shook from Eugene, Oregon to Canada. It triggered a landslide near Wenatchee that briefly dammed the Columbia River.

For years, geologists couldn't pin down the quake's source. But now they think they've found it: A previously unknown fault near Entiat on the east side of the Cascades.

"So we had this big earthquake but no one could put their finger on where's the fault that's responsible," said Brian Sherrod, a paleoseismologist with the US Geological Survey.

A paleoseismologist studies ancient earthquakes. Sherrod said the source of the massive quake has baffled scientists for decades. Guesses placed the epicenter everywhere from Sedro-Woolley to Lake Chelan to British Columbia.

A magnitude-4.3 earthquake rumbled under Washington state's Cascade Range, but no injuries or damage have been reported.

The Pacific Northwest Seismic Network says the quake struck at 1:04 a.m. Wednesday and was centered about 20 miles north of Ellensburg and 10 miles northeast of Cle Elum in central Washington.

USGS

The U.S. Geological Survey's National Earthquake Information Center says a magnitude 6.7 quake has been recorded in the Pacific Ocean off the northwest corner of British Columbia's Vancouver Island.

There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries. The U.S. National Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer, Alaska, says there is no danger of a tsunami from the Wednesday night quake.

Scientists who have been studying a swarm of small earthquakes that shook Spokane in 2001 say they may have evidence of a new fault in the area. 

On Friday, scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey announced an airborne survey of the Spokane area revealed clues that look to be connected to a so-called swarm of small earthquakes that struck in 2001.

The swarm was actually several small quakes, the largest of which registered a 4.0-magnitude quake on Nov. 11 of that year.

Damian Dovarganes / AP Photo

State officials are hoping people across Washington will drop to the floor and take cover on Thursday morning. It’s part of a massive earthquake drill that organizers say has attracted more than 800,000 people so far.

Go to the website for the Great Washington ShakeOut, and you’re met with video showing a major earthquake violently shaking the ground. The video, and the website it's on, are a project of the Washington state Department of Emergency Management.

Pacific Northwest Seismic Network

Did you feel it?

A 3.6-magnitude quake hit Key Center, Wash., located across Henderson Bay from Gig Harbor, at 11:40 a.m. Tuesday, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. 

Rob Griffith / AP

The Northwest hasn’t had a killer earthquake since 1965 – and it’s been three centuries since anything massive shook this region. That’s how New Zealanders felt, until two years ago, when a quake knocked their third largest city to its knees. 

Lessons from Christchurch, NZ, and other Pacific Rim cities, are resonating at a meeting of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, in Seattle this week.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – A magnitude 6.3 earthquake has struck off the west coast of Canada but no damages have been reported and no tsunami warning has been issued.

HONOLULU – A geologist tracking a tsunami in Hawaii says the first waves hitting shore are smaller than expected.

Gerard Fryer of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said Saturday night the largest wave was measured at 5 feet in Maui in the first 45 minutes.

Warning changes

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center had issued a tsunami warning for all Hawaiian islands Saturday night, hours after a 7.7-magnitude earthquake rocked an island off Canada's west coast. Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie proclaimed an emergency, mobilizing extra safety measures.

YORBA LINDA, Calif. — Another moderate earthquake has shaken a wide area of Southern California.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the 9:33 a.m. Wednesday quake was centered two miles northeast of the Orange County city of Yorba Linda.

The quake was initially measured at magnitude-4.5 but seismologists have since lowered the magnitude to 4.1.

A magnitude 4.4 quake centered in the same area struck late Tuesday night. No damage was reported.

Yorba Linda is about 35 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles.

Brian Hoffman / Flickr

"This is not a drill! Get out of here!"

UNALASKA, Alaska – Residents of southern Alaska awoke this morning to a major earthquake. It triggered a tsunami warning near the Aleutian Islands. But no damage has been reported and there was no tsunami.

AP

Earthquake scientists are hoping to build an early-warning system for Washington, Oregon and California.  It would give typically about five to 30 seconds of notice that a big quake was starting. The scientists have been meeting this week to craft a proposal. 

There’s no way to predict earthquakes. But once a big one starts, it sends out different kinds of shock waves that move at different speeds. One type is fast-moving, but barely perceptible. These are called P-waves. They arrive before the slow traveling but damaging shock waves (called S-waves).  

So, if you have precise sensors, they can detect the fast-moving waves and send out alarms. 

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