Violent earthquake jolts Alaska; death toll may go as high as 600 ANCHORAGE, Alaska (UPI) —A violent earthquake jolted Alaska Friday night, causing heavy loss of life, widespread damage and tidal waves that struck with killing force on the California coast. OfficiaU said the death toll in Alaska might go as high as 600, but many hours after the quake this figure was not fully sup ported. The office of Gov. William A. Egan said 50 persons were killed in the island city of Ko diak and 50 others were miss ing. Twenty-eight were reported dead in the Alaskan port town of Valdcr, and nine were killed by a tidal wave at Crescent City, CaUf. President Johnson declared the battered 49th state a federal disaster area. Johnson designated Edward A. JIcDermott, director of the Office of Emergency Planning, as his personal representative to survey ravaged Alaska. Press Secretary Reedy said McDermott will have the dual capacity as OEP director and the President's representative. Tidal waves reported as high as 50 feet smashed into Alaskan coastal towns and later struck thousands of miles away in Ha waii, Japan and the Gulf of Mexico. Large sections of downtown Anchorage and residential areas were wrecked but only three deaths were confirmed immedia- tly. The city, with a population of about 100,000 in the greater Anchorage area, is Alaska's largest. Joseph Rothstein, assistant to Gov. Egan, gave the casualty figures for Kodiak and Valdez, Valdez is 125 miles east of Anchorage. "There are communities along the perimeter of Kodiak Island that according to reports simply seem to have disappeared," Rothstein said. Gasoline storage tank fires still raged in Kodiak and the port town of Seward. Never anything like it, Rothstem said. President Johnson ordered swift federal assistance for the quake-tom areas add said, "All Alaskans and all Americans will pull together to overcome this blow." The rumbling temblor struck at 5:45 p.m. while Friday eve ning shoppers still crowded many Anchorage stores. In Anchorage, big business buildings and homes collapsed and some buildings sank 30 feet below their original level. Huge cracks opened in the streets. The front wall of a five-story department store collapsed into the street, killing two women and crushing a half-dozen parked automobiles. As many as 50 homes in the expensive Tumagain suburb were reported to have collapsed with a falling bluff into Cook Inlet. The quake was one of the strongest ever recorded, surpassing in magnitude the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 and the 1960 Chile quake that killed 5,700 persons. In Anchorage streets rippled like ocean waves, business buildings and homes collapsed and thousands of persons fled outside in freezing weather. Smaller shocks continued today while fires blazed in coastal cities stnick by tidal waves. Anchorage, Alaska's largest city with a population of about 100,000 including suburbs, was hardest hit along with coastal towns. Fairbanks in the interior was shaken but had little or no damage. The quake ripped huge cracks in Anchorage streets, some four to six feet wide, which along with falUng debris from collapsed buildings made them practically impassable. Sen. E. L. Bartlett, D-AIas- ka, said in Washington that the military commander in Alaska, Lt. Gen. Raymond J. Reeves, told him that 90 per cent of a seven block section on downtown L Street "was gone." He said Reeves "confirmed" earlier reports that about 50 homes in the expensive Tum again suburb of Anchorage crashed down a bluff. Two tidal waves struck Kodiak, the general said, and the "substantially de- town was molished." Reeves, stationed at Elmendorf Air Force Base, told Bartlett: "I was literally glued to my chair in the second floor living quarters. I could not move. It lasted sue minutes. Everything in the house that was breakable did break." An amateur operator in a radio-equipped automobile reported from Anchorage at the moment the quake struck: "Oh ray God what is happening. The streets are rippling like an ocean wave. Cars are rolling ..." Then the voice faded. Normal communications with Alaska were knocked out but military authorities reported necessary channels open, and said their air raid warning defense systems were operating. The Air Force and civilian disaster agencies, including the Red Cross, moved swiftly to the stricken state but the first flight from Juneau was turned back because of weather conditions at Anchorage. The Tactical Air Command said 162 doctors, nurses and medical technicians with portable hospital facilities would be flown to Elmendorf AFB from Pope AFB, Fayetteville, N.C. The tower at Anchorage International airport collapsed and it was reported six persons were kiUed. Only 3,000 feet of the main runway was usable. Civilian air traffic was diverted to nearby Elmendorf where runways were undamaged. Reeves sent a company military policemen and otlier military personnel into Anchorage for patrol and rescue duty. Outside Anchorage the hardest hit Alaskan cities were Valdez, Kodiak, Seward, and Cordova—all on the coast. Reeves said Kodiak was "substantially demolished." The island city's mayor, Pete de Veaa said, "The whole town is completely disabled. No power. Request housing, clothing and shelter for women and children. The main Valdez dock .was hit by both fire and tidal wave and most of the missing were believed swept into the water. Fire spread from the docks to the business district and Coast Guard message said there was no water to fight it. Three persons were reported dead in Seward and 20 missing. Fire raged through the town after burning a dock and oil storage tanks. An oil tanker, the Alaska Standard, was reported beached and burning. Magnitude of the earthquake was recorded as 8.6 on the Richter scale at the University of California in Berkeley. The San Francisco earthquake of 1906 was estimated' at 8.3 on the same scale, as was the Chile quake in May, 1960 that killed 5,700 persons.