Some Island residents were being warned to stay off beaches Saturday night, after a powerful 7.7-magnitude earthquake in the Haida Gwaii area triggered tsunami warnings.
In the Capital Regional District, Kelli Kryzanowski of Emergency Management B.C. said sea fluctuations measured about half a metre. No widespread damage was expected but people were warned to stay away from low coastal areas.
The provincial emergency co-ordination centre issued a bulletin saying a low-level tsunami could affect marinas and other coastal infrastructure or create strong currents in harbours and coastal areas.
The northern end of Vancouver Island and the southern tip of the Island from Jordan River to Greater Victoria, including the Saanich Peninsula, were included in the tsunami advisory.
It looks like the damage and the risk is at a very low level, Justice Minister Shirley Bond said just after 11 p.m.
Residents of the north-central coast felt the ground roll and watched hydro poles sway as the powerful earthquake jolted the coast. The quake was felt across an area that included Haida Gwaii, Prince Rupert, Quesnel and Houston.
Bella Coola resident Carsten Ginsburg said the quake lasted for about 40 seconds. It shook everything. The electricity went out, the power lines were swinging all over the place and stuff was falling off the shelves.
The agency reported that the quake struck just after 8 p.m., its epicentre 17 kilometres below ground about 200 kilometres south-southwest of Prince Rupert.
Several aftershocks were reported, including one 5.8-magnitude tremor.
Around Tofino, tsunami sirens sounded and residents and visitors headed for high ground.
One traveller said the more than 100 carloads of people who travelled the tsunami route from town to higher ground remained calm and orderly. However, some were confused by an announcement accompanying the alarm that told people to dial their local radio station non-locals didnt know where on the dial to find that station.
Groom and bride Colin and Ryan Gentles were about to cut their wedding cake at Long Beach Lodge in Tofino when their wedding party was alerted by staff of the tsunami advisory. The music had obliterated the sound of the warning siren.
People scattered, Ryan Gentles, 29, said. There was a little bit of panic, added Peter Sheldon of Vancouver.
The bride said the wedding party all immediate family members, some in kilts made it to designated high ground. The bride said the tsunami scare only made her special day more memorable.
I dont think anyone can top this wedding story, Ryan said.
The bride and groom are both adventure-tourism specialists but admitted Saturday that this was more than they bargained for when they planned a trip to Tofino.
Brandy Rimney of Calgary was celebrating her moms 60th birthday at Cox Bay Beach Resort when she heard the tsunami siren.
We were a little bit freaked out, Rimney said. The 15 family members from Calgary and Vancouver got into cars and headed to high ground.
Some of the kids are sleeping, some are not sure whats going on and moms worried, she said.
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