Earthquake Off Canada Sparks Tsunami Alert

Thousands of people in Hawaii have been ordered to leave their homes after a tsunami was triggered by an earthquake off the coast of Canada.

Initial warnings have now been downgraded but residents and tourists are still being advised to stay on higher ground until an all-clear is given.

The 7.7 magnitude earthquake hit off the west coast of Canada, around 96 miles (155km) south of Masset in the Haida Gwaii region, at just after 8pm local time.

The US Geological Survey said the earthquake was followed by a 5.8 magnitude aftershock several minutes later.

An estimated 100,000 to 150,000 people who live in Hawaii's coastal zones were urged to move to higher ground after a tsunami warning was issued.

This was later downgraded to an advisory and video footage of the island of Oahu showed relatively small waves rolling towards the shore.

Lenore Lawrence, a resident of Queen Charlotte City on the Haida Gwaii, said the quake was "definitely scary".

She said the shaking lasted more than a minute and that several things had fallen off her mantlepiece. 

Residents in parts of British Columbia were also evacuated but the province seemed to escape the biggest quake in Canada since 1949 largely unscathed.

Lucy Jones, a USGS seismologist, said: "This isn't that big of an earthquake on tsunami scales. The really big tsunamis are usually up in the high 8s and 9s."

Tremors were 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. We're certainly grateful," said Shirley Bond, British Columbia's minister responsible for emergency management.

Officials downgraded a tsunami warning to an advisory for southern Alaska and British Columbia. They also issued an advisory for areas of northern California and southern Oregon.

The first wave of the small tsunami, about four inches, hit the southeast Alaska coastal community of Craig.