The strongest earthquake in American history, measuring 8.4 on the Richter scale, slams southern Alaska, creating a deadly tsunami. Some 125 people were killed and thousands injured.
The massive earthquake had its epicenter in the Prince William Sound, about eight miles northeast of Anchorage, but approximately 300,000 square miles of U.S., Canadian, and international territory were affected. Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city, sustained the most property damage, with about 30 blocks of dwellings and commercial buildings damaged or destroyed in the downtown area. Fifteen people were killed or fatally injured as a direct result of the three-minute quake, and then the ensuing tsunami killed another 110 people. The tidal wave, which measured over 100 feet at points, devastated towns along the Gulf of Alaska and caused carnage in British Columbia, Canada; Hawaii; and the West Coast of the United States, where 15 people died. Total property damage was estimated in excess of $400 million. The day after the quake, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared Alaska an official disaster area.