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Quake off B.C. coast prompts tsunami warnings

UPDATED: Sat., Oct. 27, 2012, 10:12 p.m.

VANCOUVER, B.C. — A magnitude 7.7 earthquake struck off the coast of western Canada today and a tsunami warning was issued, authorities said. There were no immediate reports of damage.

The U.S. Geological Survey in Colorado said the quake hit the Queen Charlotte Islands at 8:15 Pacific time and was centered 96 miles south of Masset, British Columbia.

The National Weather Service issued a tsunami warning for coastal areas of British Columbia and southern Alaska. It said the warning area included Craig and Sitka, Alaska.

The USGS said the 7.7-magnitude quake shook the area and was followed by a 5.8 magnitude aftershock several minutes later.

The U.S. Coast Guard in Alaska said it was trying to warn everyone with a boat on the water to prepare for a potential tsunami.

Lt. Bernard Auth of the Juneau Command Center says the Coast Guard was also working with local authorities to alert people in coastal towns to take precautions.

The earthquake occurred 25 miles south of Sandspit, British Columbia on the Haida Gwaii archipelago, formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands.

Port Clements Golden Spruce hotel operator Urs Thomas said there was no warning before everything began moving inside and outside the hotel. He said it lasted about three minutes.

“It was a pretty good shock,” Thomas, 59, said. “I looked at my boat outside. It was rocking. “Everything was moving. My truck was moving.”

After the initial jolt, Thomas began to check the hotel.

“The fixtures and everything were still swinging,” he said. “I had some picture frames coming down.”

Natural Resources Canada said in a statement that a major earthquake was felt across much of north and central British Columbia but that there were no immediate reports of damage.