BRITISH COLUMBIA

Haida Gwaii Earthquake Shakes North Coast

04/24/2015 10:32 EDT | Updated 06/24/2015 05:59 EDT
Shutterstock / Konstantin Sutyagin
QUEEN CHARLOTTE CITY, B.C. - The mayor of the community closest to a strong earthquake that struck British Columbia's north coast on Friday welcomes the tremor in hopes it will relieve building pressure.

The 6.1 magnitude earthquake hit approximately 167 km southeast of the Village of Queen Charlotte in the Haida Gwaii region at about 7 a.m.

No damage or injuries were immediately reported. The National Tsunami Warning Centre said a tsunami was not expected to result from the quake, which struck about 10 km under the surface.

Queen Charlotte City Mayor Greg Martin woke up to the quake, which shook his bed and rattled his door, but said the trembling was minor.

"We're quite used to earthquakes here, and frankly, it's a bit of a relief," he said.

"When we get little ones we think that the pressure is being released and hopefully not building up to the 'big one.'"

He added that the city is built on a rock foundation and residents there don't feel the extreme movement that other Haida Gwaii communities often feel in a quake.

Martin said the quake is a good reminder that the city must be ready for an imminent future disaster, although emergency preparedness measures are already in place.

Experts have said the Pacific archipelago of Haida Gwaii is the likely location of a future large quake and tsunami, with increased pressure immediately south of the islands along the Queen Charlotte Fault.

The 7.7 magnitude earthquake that hit Haida Gwaii in October 2012 was the second-largest quake measured in Canadian history.

Billy Yovanovich, the chief councillor of Skidegate Band Council — a Haida community located about 8 km from Queen Charlotte City — was also woken Friday to his house shaking, but said it only lasted for seconds.

"I was just waking up and my dog, actually, I think heard it coming, and she started shuffling around," he said.

He has previously felt gusty winds rattle his house just like Friday's quake. While this most recent tremor felt small, the community is still on edge after the massive quake three years ago, he said.

"A lot of people are still quite anxious, still traumatized, over that major one," he said. "It really throws people off even with these smaller ones."

The Skidegate community has an emergency preparedness team that has developed tsunami routes and other emergency responses, Yovanovich said.

Earthquakes between a 6.0 and 6.9 are considered strong tremors on the Richter scale.

— By Cara McKenna in Vancouver

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