PRINCE RUPERT, B.C. - A significant earthquake jolted British Columbia's north coast early Tuesday, rattling furniture and nerves but not spawning a tsunami.
Franc Pridoehl, who lives in Queen Charlotte City, said he was having breakfast when the chairs and table started moving and the chandelier began swinging.
"It was really eerie," he said of the 6.5 magnitude quake that struck at 7:30 a.m.
"I began getting concerned when it was shaking," Pridoehl said.
"I told my wife, `Get ready to get out of the house.' When this was happening you realize how powerful and how raw nature is."
The Pacific Geoscience Centre in Sidney, B.C., reported the quake was centred 144 kilometres southeast of Queen Charlotte City, off the extreme southern tip of the Queen Charlotte Islands.
The quake was felt over a wide area of northwestern B.C., from Terrace to Kitimat and as far south as Port Hardy on northern Vancouver Island.
John Cassidy, a seismologist with the Geological Survey of Canada, said the area is prone to earthquakes "but this was a big one."
"It was felt quite strongly across the islands and many people described it as the strongest they've felt in several years, but this is one of the most seismically active regions in Canada and a 6.5 earthquake happens every few years."
He said a 6.5 quake on shore, in a populate area, would definitely cause injuries and damage but none were reported Tuesday.
The largest shaker ever to hit the north end of the Queen Charlotte Islands was an 8.1 magnitude quake that occurred in August 1949, Cassidy said.
"The ground shook so strongly on the Queen Charlotte Islands that some people couldn't stand and were actually tossed to the ground," he said.
That 1949 quake is still among the largest in the world, even bigger than San Francisco's 7.8 magnitude shaker in 1906.
Carol Kulesha, the mayor of Queen Charlotte City, said she'd fallen asleep on her couch after watching TV when the shaker hit at 7:30 a.m.
"It woke me from a sound sleep," she said. "It felt like I was on a train."
Kulesha said people are used to earthqakes in the area about 700 kilometres north of Vancouver.
"Sometimes we feel it more than others but this one was significant in that it was fairly close to the Islands."
Kulesha said the quake lasted a few seconds - enough time for her to realize the rattling and moving couch were the result of a shaker.
"Our emergency preparedness leader, he slept through it so everyone feels it in different ways."
Kulesha said the town's Public Works staff is surveying the area to make sure no pipes haven't come apart.
"I've spoken to the RCMP and our local emergency preparedness group and everything seems to be OK."
The earthquake was followed by a 5.7-magnitude aftershock about six minutes later but there are no reports of damage from either shaker.
Guy Urban, a spokesman at the Tsunami Warning Centre in Palmer, Alaska, says earthquakes in that area are "not unusual."