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Minor 4.9-magnitude earthquake rattles B.C.’s Coast Mountains

Residents in many areas of B.C. reported feeling the effects of a minor earthquake that struck in B.C.’s Coast Mountains, about 220 kilometres north of Vancouver on Sunday afternoon.

Earthquakes Canada says the quake was recorded at 3:23 p.m. PST and registered at a magnitude of 4.9, but so far there are no reports of damage or secondary impacts, such as landslides.

John Cassidy, a seismologist with Natural Resources Canada, says earthquakes are a relatively rare occurrence for the central part of the province’s coastal mountain range, with the last being a 4.1 magnitude quake in 2017.

“It appears to be a relatively shallow earthquake and with a number of small aftershocks so far … in the magnitude one-to-two-and-a-half range,” he said, adding aftershocks can happen hours or even days after such quakes, but tend to drop off in frequency “as time goes on.”

Cassidy says people over a “very wide region” of the province have reported feeling the earthquake, which hit a remote region roughly 150 kilometres northwest of Whistler.

Reports came in from people across northern and central Vancouver Island, and as far away as Kelowna, more than 350 kilometres from the quake’s epicentre.

Lara Lares says she and her mother were in their kitchen at home in the Nemiah Valley, about 40 kilometres from the epicentre, when they felt the sudden jolt. 

“We had a lot of horses in our backfield that started running all of a sudden, like full sprinting from one end of a field to the other and like back again,” said Lares, whose family runs Flying L Ranch, a horse rescue and ranch.

“All of a sudden we felt the earth shake … All of our plants were shaking, like the walls were shaking.”

Lara Lares (left) and her family run Flying L Ranch in the Nemiah Valley, about 40 kilometres from the epicenter of Sunday’s earthquake. (Lara Lares)

Lares says while the earthquake only lasted four to five seconds with no damage to their property, the family and horses are still shaken in the aftermath.

“I’ve never felt so unsteady while standing on solid ground,” she said. 

“My dogs were a little nervous … and [the horses] were pretty jumpy and kept their distance.”

Cassidy says Sunday’s earthquake was minor in the “global scheme of things,” but said it’s important to be prepared for earthquakes nonetheless.

“It’s really a good reminder that we are in an active earthquake zone,” he said.

“They don’t happen very often, but when they do happen, it’s important to know what to do, to drop, cover and hold on.”

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