Magnitude-6.6 earthquake recorded off Vancouver Island

A magnitude-6.6 earthquake off the coast of Vancouver Island was felt by residents across the Island and on the mainland Wednesday night.

The U.S. Geological Survey recorded the quake, first reported as a 6.7, off the west coast of the Island at 8:10 p.m., about 94 kilometres south of Port Hardy and 11  kilometres deep.

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Two aftershocks were reported in the hour following the quake. The first was magnitude 5.0 at 8:20 p.m. and the second magnitude 4.2 at 8:41 p.m. A third aftershock, at 4.2, was recorded at 10:16 p.m.

No tsunami warnings were issued, and there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

EARTHQUAKE PREPAREDNESS: Read our special series — Earthquake 123

Fiona Mitchell was in bed at the University of Victoria student residences when she felt shaking.

“It was like someone was shaking my bed back and forth,” said Mitchell, a fine arts masters student. “It happened really quickly.”

Port Hardy Mayor Bev Parnham said Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon was greeting seniors at the Quatse Salmon Stewardship Centre, an interpretive centre and fish hatchery, when the earthquake hit. "Somebody said, 'Oh earthquake,' and of course we then all felt it, and you definitely knew you were in an earthquake," said Parnham.

"I don't think there was even enough time to really comprehend because it was very short, like it was strong but it was very short, short lived, and I think by the time it actually registered in your mind, this is what was happening, you know, it was over."

She said there was no panic, people remained calm, and after the quake ended she left to ensure none of the community's infrastructure was damaged. She said public-works officials even went out to check.

"I think that the honourable lieutenant governor will remember Port Hardy," said Parnham.

Shelley Siemens, a Port Hardy resident, was in her home along with her daughter and boyfriend when the shaking began. “It was really kind of scary,” she said.

“I was in my bathroom and I have glass sliding doors. I thought they were going to come right out,” said Siemens.

“I ran down the hallway to my boyfriend and I said, ‘What the heck, did you guys feel that?’ ”

She said it was the second time she had been in an earthquake in Port Hardy, but said this one felt different. It was brief, but powerful, and felt like it rolled from north to south, she said

Reaction on social media was swift, with posts appearing moments after the quake.

Nanaimo Coun. Diane Brennan tweeted that she was in Sayward, north of Campbell River, when she felt what she described as the strongest earthquake she’s ever experienced.

“Thought I was having a stroke! Thought I was dizzy but the room was swaying,” she wrote.



Wendy Maurer in Qualicum Beach said she felt a rolling feeling while seated. Others, in Sooke, Port Hardy, Comox, Cortes Island and Courtenay said they felt swaying and rumbling. Several people in the Interior reported shaking in Kelowna and Kamloops.

On Twitter, former politician Stockwell Day said: “Earthquake in Vancouver? 10th Floor condo definitely swaying, lights and blinds too. Eerie feeling. And no, no medical marijuana involved.”

Vancouver-West End MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert said he felt it “19 floors up in the West End. The lights were swaying. Hope everyone is OK.”

Lynn Rowe said she felt the earthquake from her 12th floor apartment in downtown Vancouver.

“I was sitting at my desk on my laptop, when I was suddenly swaying side to side. At first I thought it was me, but then I looked over at my sewing machines, and the cardboard tags on them were swaying back and forth,” she said.

There were no reports of injuries or major damage caused by the quake.

"We can confirm at this time that there is no reporting of any injuries or any significant damage, so all folks are safe," said Pat Quealey, assistant deputy minister for Emergency Management B.C.

While earthquakes are common around this area off Vancouver Island, Wednesday’s was particularly strong and shallow.

In comparison, the 2011 earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand that killed 185 people, was magnitude 6.3.

With files from the Vancouver Sun and The Canadian Press

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