earthquakes | KUOW News and Information

earthquakes

A magnitude 6.5 earthquake struck off the coast of Indonesia around 5 a.m. local time on Wednesday, killing nearly 100 people.

The death toll is expected to rise as rescue and recovery efforts continue, NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports.

The quake was at a relatively shallow depth, just 11 miles under the Earth's surface, Anthony says. Its epicenter was on the coast of Aceh province, the same region where an earthquake triggered a devastating tsunami in 2004.

No tsunami warning has been issued following Wednesday's quake. Aftershocks continue to shake the region.

After a powerful earthquake struck New Zealand on Sunday, several vital railroads and highways have been destroyed, stranding more than a thousand people in the affected region.

At least two people died in the Sunday night earthquake, which was magnitude 7.8 and triggered a small tsunami.

Since then, visitors and residents alike have also been grappling with a series of aftershocks — including several at magnitude 6.0 or higher.

KUOW Photo/Caroline Chamberlain

Bill Radke talks with Bill Steele of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network at the University of Washington about how Washington state is unprepared for a large earthquake.

Last June, Washington held the Cascadia Rising earthquake response drill. A report in the wake of the drill found that Washington is unprepared. Steele explains what we should be doing individually and regionally before a major earthquake strikes.

Gabriella Garrett, Colleen Andersonn Marci Oliveri went for a ride on the earthquake simulator Tuesday afternoon.
KUOW Photo/Katherine Banwell

The city of Seattle invited the public to a "Big Shaker" event Tuesday at Westlake Park to be part of an earthquake simulation and nudge people to prepare for the inevitable.

KUOW's Katherine Banwell went along for the ride and sent us this audio postcard featuring Dean Reese, CEO of Ready America; simulator participants Gabriella Garrett, Colleen Anderson and Marci Oliveri; and Matt Auflick of the Seattle Office of Emergency Management.

Earthquakes Rattle Southern Oregon Coast

Sep 25, 2016

A pair of moderate earthquakes rattled the coast of Southern Oregon and Northern California late Saturday evening and early Sunday morning, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

A magnitude 5.0 quake occurred in the Pacific Ocean nearly 100 miles off the coast of Gold Beach, Oregon, around 10:01 p.m. Saturday. A magnitude 4.6 quake rumbled nearly 100 miles off the coast of Brookings, Oregon, nearly five hours later.

Over the last several years, scientists, including those at the U.S. Geological Survey and the Environmental Protection Agency, have linked an increase in earthquakes in Texas to oil and gas activity. But, industry and Texas state regulators remain reluctant to publicly acknowledge it.  Now, a study that looks at the quakes from space might put more pressure on them to do so.


Seaside School District has four schools in the tsunami zone.

The school board unanimously approved a bond measure Thursday to build a new campus outside the tsunami zone. It tried to pass a bond to get them out in 2013, but that failed.

Superintendent Doug Dougherty thinks this time it’ll be different.

First, because Weyerhaeuser has donated land above the tsunami zone. And second, because Seaside is first in line to receive $4 million in matching funds from the state.

Updated at 8 a.m. ET on Thursday:

Officials in Italy say the death toll has risen to 241. The Associated Press quotes the country's civil protection agency — in updated figures about 27 hours after the earthquake struck, the officials said the death toll was 247, but it has since been revised downward. Urgent search efforts continue.

Original Post:

Preschoolers huddle beneath a table at Green Tree Early Learning Center in Seattle, which conducts monthly earthquake drills.
KUOW Photo/Ann Dornfeld

Bill Radke speaks with Seattle Times reporter Sandi Doughton about why so many Washington state schools are unprepared for a major earthquake.


A Portland firefighter and a national guardsman check for bodies in a pile of crumpled cars at the base of a blackened tower.

They pull a dummy out of one of the cars – one of the few "survivors" of this simulated post-earthquake emergency. They strap the critically injured victim onto a backboard and hook it to a set of dangling ropes.

“Basically, we have an overpass that’s crashed down," said Matthew Silva of Portland Fire & Rescue. "We’ve got three vehicles and multiple victims. They’re trapped at the bottom of this ravine at the bottom of the overpass.”

To the average pedestrian, it was just a curb. To an observant one, perhaps, it was an oddly misaligned curb.

To geologists, it was a snapshot of the earth's shifting tectonic plates — an accidental experiment, a field trip destination for decades.

But to the town of Hayward, Calif., it was just a bit of subpar infrastructure.

The Los Angeles Times sums up what happened next:

'Week in Review' panel Marcus Green, Knute Berger, Erica C. Barnett and Bill Radke.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has a reputation for being a hothead. How should we react to his controversial behavior with city council members?

Also this week, we posted an essay by a Seattle University professor who had a racially-charged encounter in a Seattle Starbucks. Is this a racial story or a Seattle story?

Planes and parachutes might be the best bet for getting supplies to cut-off areas in the event of a subduction zone earthquake. National Guard pilots and paratroopers practiced supply drops and parachute jumps Thursday.

Bill Radke shows off the emergency kits we have for everyone at KUOW (but that's not enough to last us in a major catastrophe).
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

Bill Radke speaks with Tom Martin, founding member of the American Preppers Network, about why he has an emergency supply of food and water. Martin also talks about why people need to be prepared for any natural disaster. 

Bricks that fell from an earthquake cover parked cars in Seattle's Pioneer Square district, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2001 after a magnitude 6.8 earthquake which damaging buildings and roads, and closing Seattle's two airports.
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Emergency responders across the Pacific Northwest are holding an exercise to test their skills in a magnitude 9.0 earthquake. It's called Cascadia Rising

And one of the challenges that responders would face after a real earthquake would be getting supplies through downtown Seattle.


A scene from a simulation by the Washington State Department of Transportation of what could happen if a massive earthquake hits the Alaskan Way Viaduct.
YouTube/WSDOT

Emily Fox talks with Lt. Col. Clayton Braun about Cascadia Rising, a four-day exercise to test the emergency response to a 9.0 magnitude earthquake along the Cascadia Subduction Zone. Braun is a member of the Washington State National Guard.

Kji Kelly of Historic Seattle, at the Good Shepherd Center in Wallingford. The city of Seattle says the building is unreinforced masonry and is expected to be dangerous in a quake. These brick walls could collapse, hurting people inside and outside.
KUOW Photo/Carolyn Adolph

After a big earthquake it could take 10 days for help to arrive, so neighborhoods will be on their own.

The City of Seattle says communication hubs would allow neighbors to meet up. Many neighborhoods already have a natural meeting place, but a major earthquake brings complications.

Is your brick building at serious risk in an earthquake?
Flickr Photo/Helen Cook (CC BY SA 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/poMYZ

Kim Malcolm speaks with Seattle Times reporter Sandi Doughton about why Seattle still has over a thousand unreinforced masonry buildings (full list here), despite knowledge of their danger in an earthquake and the availability of technology to make them safer.

Doughton is co-author with Daniel Gilbert of the article, "Buildings that kill: The earthquake danger lawmakers have ignored for decades."  

Nearly 100 Tiny Quakes Shake Area Around Mount Hood

May 16, 2016

Mount Hood is trembling. They’re not big tremors. But there are a lot of them.

Close to 100 tiny quakes shook the area around Mount Hood Village between 6 p.m. Sunday night and Monday morning.

The largest had a magnitude of 1.9, meaning people didn’t actually feel it.

The U.S. Geological Survey said a quake has to reach a magnitude of 3 before people actually feel it — and even then, they’d have to be sitting quietly, likely on the upper floors of a building.

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.

A magnitude 7.8 earthquake in Ecuador on Saturday has left more than 400 people dead and many more injured.

Thousands are homeless, The Associated Press reports, and highways, air traffic control towers and buildings along the coast have collapsed.

Rescue workers were working to find and aid survivors, while officials warned the general public of the perils of digging through the rubble.

Updated 1:52 a.m. ET Monday:

The death toll from Saturday's earthquake has risen to 262. The new number was given to reporters Sunday night. President Rafael Correa, who cut short a trip to Rome to return to Ecuador, said he expects the death toll to rise. Government officials say there are many people who are still missing.

Original Post:

A 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Ecuador's central coast Saturday evening, killing hundreds and devastating entire regions of the country.

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.

Some parts of Oklahoma and Texas now have about the same risk of an earthquake as parts of California, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The big difference is, the quakes in Oklahoma and Texas are "induced" — they're caused by oil and gas operations that pump wastewater down into underground wells.

Engineers told state legislatures in 1995 that the Alaskan Way Viaduct would crumble in a major quake. The project to replace the Viaduct is underway but still incomplete.
Flickr Photo/Washington State Department of Transportation CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

When a major quake hit San Francisco in 1989, the Cypress Street Viaduct collapsed, killing 42 people.

The next day, Washington state officials saw images of the viaduct. To their horror, it looked almost identical to the Alaskan Way Viaduct on Seattle’s waterfront.

Some of Washington state's busiest bridges have a surprising design feature deep inside their massive structures.

Preschoolers huddle beneath a table at Green Tree Early Learning Center in Seattle, which conducts monthly earthquake drills.
KUOW Photo/Ann Dornfeld

For parents in the Seattle area, the idea of a big earthquake is scary enough. But what happens if a disaster strikes when your children are in daycare?

State law requires child care centers train their staff – and children in their care – in what to do in an emergency. 

But a KUOW analysis has found that some daycare centers are out of compliance year after year – even in the Seattle neighborhoods most vulnerable to earthquake.

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.

Taiwanese President-elect Tsai Ing-wen is promising extensive safety checks of old buildings two days after an earthquake killed at least 38 people, according to local media. New questions emerged after stacks of cans were found in the walls of a 17-story building that was the scene of all but two of those deaths.

Rescue efforts continue in southern Taiwan, three days after a powerful magnitude-6.4 earthquake shook the island and killed more than three dozen people. But hopes of finding survivors were fading. Early Monday, more than 100 people were still unaccounted for from the Golden Dragon apartment complex, the center of most rescue efforts.

This weekend, there were countless stories of death — and life.

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