PORT HARDY, B.C. – Glass rattled, buildings swayed, but no damage was reported after a magnitude 6.7 earthquake hit off the northern coast of Vancouver Island on Wednesday night.
The U.S. Geological Survey reported that the epicentre was about 94 kilometres south of Port Hardy and struck at a depth of 11 kilometres.
The agency also said three more earthquakes followed. The first was magnitude 5.0 and the next two both measured 4.2.
Emergency Management B.C. reported there was no tsunami warning for the West Coast, including B.C., and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said a destructive Pacific-wide tsunami was not expected.
“We can confirm at this time that there is no reporting of any injuries or any significant damage, so all folks are safe,” said Pat Quealey, assistant deputy minister for Emergency Management BC.
He said emergency-preparedness officials were contacted in communities on the Island’s north end.
He said those communities included Port Hardy, Port Alice, Zeballos, Gold River, Campbell River, Port McNeill, as well as the Strathcona Regional District and the Mount Waddington Regional District.
Port Hardy Mayor Bev Parnham said Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon was greeting seniors at the Quatse Salmon Stewardship Centre, an interpretive centre and fish hatchery, when the earthquake hit.
“Somebody said, ‘oh earthquake,’ and of course we then all felt it, and you definitely knew you were in an earthquake,” said Parnham.
“I don’t think there was even enough time to really comprehend because it was very short, like it was strong but it was very short, short lived, and I think by the time it actually registered in your mind, this is what was happening, you know, it was over.”
She said there was no panic, people remained calm, and after the quake ended she left to ensure none of the community’s infrastructure was damaged. She said public-works officials even went out to check.
“I think that the honourable lieutenant-governor will remember Port Hardy,” said Parnham.
Pamela Shea was working the evening shift at the Airport Inn in Port Hardy and said she felt the quake hit at about 8:10 p.m. and the rolling motion caused by the quake was “pretty scary.”
“Oh goodness, yes. Oh goodness, yes,” she repeated when asked if she felt the quake. “My chair was rolling back and forth, the bottles were rattling.”
Shea said it only last about 10 to 12 seconds, “but it sure felt like it was a long time.”
“I’ve lived here 37 years and I’ve never felt anything like it.”
Ann Gray, the manager of the Glen Lyon Inn, said she barely felt it but knows people who did.
“I was sitting here, my chair moved abut two seconds, three seconds, the wall creaked a little bit, but it didn’t move us very much,” she said.
She said some of guests asked if they had to be evacuated.
Earthquakes are common off the B.C. coast, where the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate meets the Pacific tectonic plate, but few are large enough to be felt by humans.
The most recent large quake was in October 2012, when a magnitude 7.8 quake shook the northern B.C. Haida Gwaii Islands. There was little damage and no tsunami was generated in that quake.
— by Keven Drews and Terri Theodore in Vancouver