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Magnitude 7.7 earthquake rattles West coast of Canada

Canada earthquake: The earthquake stuck just after 8 p.m. local time Saturday, creating a small tsunami. No major damage or injuries have been reported in Canada. Hawaii still on tsunami watch.

By Jeremy HainsworthAssociated Press / October 28, 2012

US Geological Survey map of the magnitude 7.7 earthquake that struck near the Queen Charlotte Islands Saturday evening.

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Vancouver, British Columbia

 A magnitude 7.7 earthquake struck off the west coast of Canada, but there were no reports of major damage. Residents in parts of British Columbia were evacuated but the province appeared to escape the biggest quake in Canada since 1949 largely unscathed.

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The U.S. Geological Survey said the powerful quake hit the Queen Charlotte Islands just after 8 p.m. local time Saturday at a depth of about 3 miles (5 kilometers) and was centered 96 miles (155 kilometers) south of Masset, British Columbia. It was felt across a wide area in British Columbia, both on its Pacific islands and on the mainland.

"It looks like the damage and the risk are at a very low level," said Shirley Bond, British Columbia's minister responsible for emergency management said. "We're certainly grateful."

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The National Weather Service issued a tsunami warning for coastal areas of British Columbia, southern Alaska and Hawaii, but later downgraded the warning to an advisory for southern Alaska and British Columbia. Gerard Fryer, a senior geologist with the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, said the first waves hitting shore in Hawaii are smaller than expected, but added it could be as long as seven hours before the warning is canceled if waves get bigger.

The weather service also issued an advisory for areas of northern California and southern Oregon.

Dennis Sinnott of the Canadian Institute of Ocean Science said a 69-centimeter (27 inch) wave was recorded off Langara Island on the northeast tip of Haida Gwaii, formerly called the Queen Charlotte Islands. The islands are home to about 5,000 people, many of them members of the Haida aboriginal group. Another 55 centimeter (21 inch) wave hit Winter Harbour on the northeast coast of Vancouver Island.

"It appears to be settling down," he said. "It does not mean we won't get another small wave coming through."

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