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Ground Stop at Alaska's International Airport; Witnesses Describe Anchorage Earthquake; Earthquake Damages Roads, Hospitals; Infrastructure Damage but No Fatalities or Injuries Reported after Earthquake. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired November 30, 2018 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Just so you can a sense of what this 7.0 earthquake magnitude earthquake felt like, not just on the roads -- one roadway totally buckled with a car stranded. We talked about the local TV stations and now the airports as well. There's a full ground stop. No flights out of Anchorage whatsoever.

Rene Marsh is covering that for us.

And, Rene, seeing people running for cover, the siren overhead, how frightening.

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION & GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. I know the FAA, they are trying to assess the damage at that airport. They don't have a full picture but we know the air traffic control tower had to be evacuated. As you mentioned, Brooke, flights that are bound for this airport are actually placed on a ground stop if they haven't taken off as yet. And flights already in the air are being diverted. That is the latest as far as the situation there at the airport. Again, the FAA says this is all preliminary. Obviously they're working on getting a better sense as far as what is the condition of the runways, what's the condition of the taxi ways. All that information is unknown at this point. But operations pretty much coming to a standstill at point because, first off, the air traffic control tower had to be evacuated as they try to figure everything out. It's that, as you mentioned, you're looking at images there, infrastructure that is also damaged. Roadways. That is still being assessed as well. We've reached out to the U.S. Department of Transportation to see what their assessment is at this hour. We have not heard back from them. Of course they will be in charge of assessing what sort of equipment and needs will need to be moved into that area because obviously roadways, that's the artery to get people from point A to point B.

That is what we know, Brooke. A large part, they are still assessing. No one has a big picture view except for the images we're getting in now.

BALDWIN: Still dark, 8:30 in the morning local time when all of this happened.

Rene, thank you. We'll stay in close contact with you.

Rene said full ground stop and flights being diverted coming in. Gabriele Black is on the phone with me.

Gabby Black, if you're with me, are you OK, first and foremost?

GABRIELE BLACK, ALASKA RESIDENT (via telephone): Yes, ma'am, I am.

BALDWIN: So you're all right. I think I'd be shaken up. Feeling this whole thing myself, talking to a woman a second ago who said she's felt earthquakes in Alaska for 37 years, this is the worst she's ever felt. What did it feel like for you?

BLACK: I can completely agree. I've been in Alaska my whole life and it was absolutely terrifying. The beginning, we're taking orders and we feel this -- you hear it, you feel it, we're looking around thinking it won't be that big, it's going to pass. And things get worse. Things start falling. And so immediately I, you know, pushed everything that's under the counter out, ran in there and all my co- workers were yelling get under the tables, in case there were people that weren't from Alaska. If they didn't know what to do, get under the table and be safe. I'm still shaking. You can probably hear it in my voice.


BLACK: I'm just scared it's going to happen again, but it was absolutely terrifying.

BALDWIN: Wow. You're taking orders. You work at Middle War Cafe. It was breakfast time.

BLACK: Yes, ma'am.

BALDWIN: How many people were around you and what was everyone else's reaction once it started?

BLACK: So people around me, there was probably about 15 customers in the restaurant or in the cafe and I was working with about maybe five people up front and then there was definitely about seven people in the kitchen. And I was taking an order from a man when it happened. He was ordering breakfast and it started shaking. Of course we all look at each other kind of thinking what do we do, is this serious? And when you started feeling that shaking, and you see the lights swing and coffee grounds and glass breaking and things shattering, is when you immediately drop to your knees and try to find the most safest area to go in. Thankfully for us we have really good counters to go underneath. But at that point you're just under there holding your neck hoping that it would stop and hoping that everyone you love is OK and saying your prayers. Like I said, get under the table in case anyone from out of state was and you aware of what to do.

[14:35:03] BALDWIN: Deep breaths, deep breaths.

Gabby Black, we're glad you're OK and your customers. We know you're feeling the aftershocks. We've counted nine. One was as bad as a 5.7.

Gabriele Black, we're glad you're OK.

Again, fortunately, so far, no injuries reported.

Appreciate you jumping on the phone with me.

As we're talking to more and more people describing what this felt like, the worst earthquake of their lives for many who have lived in Alaska. We're getting new video from inside a courtroom and inside a home when this earthquake first hit, next


BALDWIN: We have new video coming in from Alaska. This is when the 7.0 quake first it. This is inside a courtroom. This comes from our affiliate, KTVA. Let's listen.


[14:40:00] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my god.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my god. Oh, my god.





BALDWIN: Oh, my god, is right. You can hear the breathing there. This is inside of a courtroom.

Now we have video from inside someone's home.





BALDWIN: Oh. So you just get a sense of what this was like for these people, their dogs, their children, all who endured this 7.0 magnitude quake and all the aftershocks. We've clocked nine so far.

Nick Watt is with me now on the conditions of hospitals and roads.

Nick, what do you have?

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're beginning to get information, Brooke, about the exact nature of this infrastructure damage. We just heard from the Transportation Department up there and apparently in downtown there's a road damaged due to a sinkhole. The road near the airport is closed because of a partial collapsed road. Another area is closed due to a rock slide. Another highway shut down near Palmer, Alaska. That's nearly 30 miles away from the epicenter.

We've heard from the two main hospitals in Anchorage. Both of them are reporting isolated damage, water leaks, some cracks in walls and in floors, but those two emergency rooms are still open. No report of any damage from there.

We've also heard from a seismologist here from Cal Tech in southern California. She said the average magnitude of these aftershocks is going to be 5.8. We've seen one I believe at 5.8. We've had about eight so far. She also said these aftershocks can go on for month, even perhaps years after an event like that.

As we mentioned before, the tsunami warning has been lifted. That is good news because, that 1964 earthquake they had in Alaska, killed, they estimate, 139 people. A lot of people were killed there by a tsunami in Alaska and down here in the Oregonian coast. So the lifting of that tsunami warning is good news.

But those crews from the police department and Transportation Department are still assessing the damage. They're saying, so far, there's damage to downtown Alaska to the roads and at the airport and 20 to 30 miles away from the epicenter. But that's all still coming into us.


BALDWIN: Got it.

Nick Watt, thank you so much.

More on the special coverage out of Alaska in a second.

First, I want to make a correction. Last hour, CNN reported that President Trump met with the Saudi crown prince, and while the two men did meet, MbS was not in the video we showed.

[14:44:09] We'll be right back.


BALDWIN: So as we've been talking to people who live and have been describing to us on the air what it felt like, this 7.0 magnitude quake this morning in Anchorage, Alaska, we've really been watching, eavesdropping on this Facebook Live feed of our affiliate, KTVA, in Anchorage, Alaska. Everybody one has been knocked off the air. You can see the damage from the newsroom. But they've still been going over Facebook.

Let's dip in and keep watching a bit.

UNIDENTIFIED KTVA REPORTER: cell phone back to its owner and get to work. Likely go out into the field and hopefully have a live report tonight. None of us really know what our shows are going to look like, what the structure is going to be, but we are all going to do something and work hard and hope that we can deliver the best product possible under the current circumstances.

Again, I thank you for joining us.

Hey, is John back there?


UNIDENTIFIED KTVA REPORTER: Yes, can someone take this? I have an assignment.

BALDWIN: Allison Chinchar, passing off the phone there. It looks like KTVA, different people are heading out on assignment trying to get out and get video of the damage out and about.

What's the latest you're getting, Allison?

[14:49:51] ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEORLOGIST: Those aftershock numbers keep going up. We're now at 15 aftershocks we've had since the initial 7.0 quake. This is normal. You may not have that many this soon after. Sometimes it can take several hours before you tick up. This is a very decent amount of aftershocks after the initial quake. Some of those have been quite large. In fact, one was over five. And that was the one that was closest to downtown Anchorage. The concern is, after you get a quake that is a 7.0, a lot of buildings, infrastructure becomes structurally compromised. Any subsequent aftershocks can continue to do more damage. That's why we tell me, if anything's wrong with your building, get out. Even it's just the windows are broken or some cracks in the foundation. You don't know about the stuff you can't see. Get out of the building where you can be safer.

One other thing, we talked about this, how far people were able to feel this. Getting some reports as far as 400 miles away. But it's not just life shaking. You have a lot of this area in yellow that indicates strong and very strong shaking. Then the orange area, closer to the epicenter, that's where you're talking about severe shaking. That makes a lot of sense when you see some of the video that shows some of the damage that's taken place already.

One concern, the U.S. Geological Survey monitors economic impacts. They have given this a yellow pager, indicating they do expect some type of economic impact with the quake. Again, it's a large one. It was relatively shallow. I know it was only 25 miles underground, and that may seem like it's pretty far down, but you have to get over that 40-mile threshold before it's considered a deep quake. This one was not. This was still considered a shallow earthquake.

Typically, when we talk about aftershocks, if you have an initial quake of 7.0, it's likely you'll get one that's a magnitude six or higher. At least 10 that could be five or higher. At least 100 that could be, say, magnitude four or larger. So the continuing threat for this particular earthquake is actually going to be those subsequent aftershocks that come through based off of that initial one that was a 7.0.

Brooke, one other thing to mention, too, if you have travel plans there, keep in mind a lot of roads are damaged and the airport, the international airport is official on a ground stop as of now.

BALDWIN: That's right. Listening to the reporter of that TV station saying they all went through the 7.9 magnitude quake back in January. But everyone I've talked to and heard from said this one felt the worst and most violent they have ever felt.

We'll come back to you, Allison, next hour. Thank you so much.

We are also -- Allison mentioned the international airport in Anchorage, total ground stop, diverting flights.

Also coming in, here's pictures as that quake happened from inside this airport. We're getting control tower audio. We'll play that for you as we see more and more images of widespread infrastructure damage in the Anchorage, Alaska, area.

Breaking news after this.


[14:57:28] BALDWIN: You are watching CNN on this Friday afternoon.

We have breaking news out of Anchorage, Alaska. Around 8:30 in the morning, local time in Anchorage, there was a 7.0 magnitude earthquake. The entire town and, according to those I spoke with, folks felt it as far as 400 miles away. All the people we've been talking to last hour, they said of all the earthquakes they've felt in their lifetime in Alaska, this was the worst, most violent quake they've ever felt.

The silver lining through all of this as we're getting more and more photos of damaged TV stations, roadways, overpasses, courthouses, is that there are no reports of fatalities and no reports of any injuries.

We've been talking to more and more people reporting out of the airport, Ted Stevens International Airport, in Anchorage. There is a full ground stop. No one was coming in and flights that thought they were coming in are being diverted.

One last note before I bring in my guest, the Anchorage school district has closed all schools and the note from the emergency management people is shelter in place.

Julie Seibert is with me on the phone. She lives in Anchorage. She felt it. In Alaska, it's still dark at 8:30 in the morning, but earlier this morning.

Julie, how are you doing?

JULIE SEIBERT, ALASKA RESIDENT (via telephone): I'm doing well, thank you. BALDWIN: So 7.0 earthquake. I know you all feel these but I'm

hearing this is the worst. How did it feel?

SEIBERT: I'm actually a new resident of Anchorage. I moved here about four months ago, so I've only felt one earthquake prior to this one in Anchorage. It was a shake but it felt nothing look this one. It did freak me out quite a bit. I was in my House at the time, and I did get some damage in the House. A dresser fell over, TV's on the ground, lots of things are broken, the glass. But I have not actually returned home yet to assess what else has happened.

BALDWIN: Where did you move from?

SEIBERT: I moved from Colorado Springs.

BALDWIN: Got you. So it's your second, it sounds like, earthquake in Alaska.

For people who have never felt it, can you describe what it sounds like and how violent the shaking is?

[14:59:51] SEIBERT: Yes. It kind of sounds like a train is really close to the house and is running at full force towards the house. After you hear the sound, you start to feel the shake. I actually had just got out of the shower. It actually like dropped me to my knees.