Published on Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Earthquake in Hawaii causes only limited tourist disruption

Hawaii’s strongest earthquake in two decades had little impact on tourism, though Big Island Mayor Harry Kim estimated that as many as 3,000 people were evacuated from three hotels in the big island. Some evacuees were taken to a gymnasium.

The impact on tourism was limited in part because this is the low season. Airports continued to operate after the weekend quake though some flights were cancelled.

Most hotels returned almost immediately to regular operations.

The 6.6 magnitude quake caused some blackouts and landslides, but there were no reports of fatalities. Big Island officials said a survey of emergency rooms showed 25 people suffered minor injuries.

In the wake of the earthquakes, officials were inspecting roads and bridges.

A FEMA computer simulation estimated that as many as 170 bridges on the Big Island could have suffered damage.

The two quakes rattled houses and high-rises and cracked some buildings.

Before last weekend, the last largest quake to strike the islands was a  6.7 magnitude on 16 November, 1983, according to wire service reports. Tsunamis are more common here than earthquakes, officials said.

The state was declared a disaster area.

Report by David Wilkening

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