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CNN BREAKING NEWS
Earthquake Measuring 6.3 Strikes Hawaii
Aired October 15, 2006 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, again. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in Atlanta.
We're learning a little bit more now, two hours, almost two hours after an earthquake measuring 6.3 struck the string of islands of Hawaii. It is believed to be that the epicenter was just after the northwest coast of the Big Island, which was the island furthest south on the screen that you were seeing moments ago. That's now a tighter shot of it.
That's about 130 to 150 miles south of Oahu, which is where the capital of Honolulu is. This is 6.3, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, followed by an aftershock of 5.9. We talked to a number of people this morning who have said everything from being awakened from their beds to feel this jolt to pictures shaking and falling off the walls, et cetera.
The U.S. Geological Survey said while this was indeed a significant jolt, no tsunami warning has been issued. We've also been receiving communication from people there on the various islands, not just through cell phone use and for those who are lucky enough to still have the land lines working. We've been getting some instant messaging from at least one of our friends there on the Big Island, Gina Lynn Oda, where she had been letting us know that her parents' home is in shambles. They live in Waimea (ph) and they said everyone in their neighborhood has been running out of their homes screaming, and that wireless service, telephone service is very iffy, and most recently, we also heard from her saying that they are asking drivers not to go to the Hamakua (ph) Coast until they check for landslides, to ensure that bridges are OK.
Now we talked to a reporter in Honolulu moments ago who explained to us that there was some concern about any potential landslides taking place on the Big Island even though folks have been asked, if they are on the coast of the Big Island, to go to higher ground. The other concern has been the concern the potential for volcanic activity, since the Big Island is where Mount Kilauea is, and it is an active volcano and already spewing some lava on the east side which it has been doing, before the earthquake hit.
Joining us once again, our friend Eric Von Ancken who is a reporter out of WKMG out of Orlando. Happened to be vacationing there with his fiancee on the Big Island, and very close to this reported epicenter. He's back on the line with us now, any update from you, Eric?
ERIC VON ANCKEN, REPORTER VACATIONING IN HAWAII (on phone): Yeah, actually, Fredricka, we just talked to some of the guests downstairs from us, we saw them walking away from our unit, or our building with their luggage, of course, the reporter in me, I asked them, are you leaving? And they said, they are headed to the airport. This was planned, but they have a 3:00 flight this afternoon so, if this gives you any idea of the sense of uneasiness here, they are leaving now. It's 9:00 a.m. here. Just after 9:00 a.m. here. They are leaving now to get to the airport, which is only a 20 minute drive from here.
They are afraid of the roads. We know the roads are going to be jammed. We know that the airports are going to be jammed. These people actually have a flight, but there were other people walking by them that said, we're just going to the airport.
WHITFIELD: And they are willing to just wait it out and learn if the air traffic will resume, if it is indeed closed off right now?
VON ANCKEN: Yeah, yeah. And, you know more than I do about that, but I do know there are a lot of people leaving this resort, going to the airport, hoping to catch any flight out of here. Because they don't want to be here. This family had several small children.
They kind of knew what was going on. It was more the mother, and she was not comfortable. Her husband was speaking to her and explaining, the worst seems to be over. But she just wasn't comfortable with that. There are a lot of people in that same boat. A lot of people wondering, there's no tsunami warnings and the earthquake is over and the aftershocks seem to be over, but could there be something else? And especially when you are looking out at this huge ocean, and you know the pictures of the tsunami, what the potential of that is, and right now, it's calm and it's a gorgeous day, but it's that feeling that seems to be in a lot of people's minds. The back of their minds.
WHITFIELD: Right. And, you know, it's no wonder why a lot of people are thinking that way. When we did talk to the U.S. Geological Survey expert, he tried to offer some comfort, that it doesn't appear at this point that there is any anticipation of any further activity. So let's hope it's just a good thing and leave it at that there are no tsunami warnings as of yet.
When we spoke with a reporter out of Honolulu moments ago she talked about rain on the island of Oahu. If you look out the window where you are, what is the weather doing now?
VON ANCKEN: It is gorgeous right now, Fredricka. I mean, it is a perfect day, of course, every day is usually a perfect day in Hawaii, so I'm told. But it is absolutely gorgeous. There's no indication that anything happened. You know, other than like I said some of the damage, earlier I told you about that. But there's no indication that anything else is happening. It's not even windy up here. It's quite calm. Not even a cloud in the sky. Beautiful day.
WHITFIELD: Well, let's hope it stays that way, and hopefully you can continue to enjoy your vacationing there before you head back to Orlando, Florida. Eric Von Ancken, thanks so much. Of WKMG out of Orlando, but this time joining us from the Big Island in Hawaii. Now, joining us, a familiar face in the Hawaiian Islands, an anchor there. Mahea Richardson is on the line right now and Mahea, where are you, and what are you seeing right now?
MAHEALANI RICHARDSON, KITV ANCHOR (on phone): Hi, Fredricka, I'm in Honolulu, where the capital of Hawaii is, and right now, yes, it is raining. There is an island-wide blackout because of this earthquake, which happened at about 7:08 this morning. And so, because there's an island-wide blackout, things have pretty much come to a stop here on Oahu.
WHITFIELD: And what, if anything, are people being told about how they should go on about their business, or perhaps stay in their homes right now, what?
RICHARDSON: Well, that's what they are being told. HECO just put out an advisory a few minutes ago that people should stay in their homes. Because they basically shouldn't be driving around in these kinds of conditions. The weather is not good here on Oahu. It is raining. We do have a flash flood watch.
Also, we're being told, HECO, which is the Hawaiian Electric Company, they don't know when the power is going to go back on. They are basically going to try to put the power on very slowly. But they can't put it on quickly or there will be another island-wide blackout.
WHITFIELD: So what's the last time anybody remembers an earthquake taking place there?
RICHARDSON: Well, we've had a few small earthquakes in the past few months in the 4.0 range, and they are just small shakers, but this one this morning that was at 7:08 this morning, it was 6.3, and people said that they felt it anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute, and especially in the Kona area on the Big Island, people were saying that they could really feel it. They saw television falling off of shelves, and they also saw some buildings crack. And I'm sure, you heard earlier that the hospital in the Kona area is being evacuated because of damage to that hospital.
WHITFIELD: Really? What kind of damage? Are you learning anything more?
RICHARDSON: We're not exactly sure what kind of damage. But again, we are hearing that people are evacuating. There is damage. And we are also learning of two highways on the west side of the Big Island, have also been damaged. There have been reports of rock slides and landslides, so things are pretty much in emergency mode over there.
Also, the flights cannot take off, so, there are a lot of tourists in the Kona area who just want to evacuate the Big Island. At this point, they cannot evacuate. So the best thing for them to do is to stay put right now.
WHITFIELD: I'm glad you're saying that. We just spoke with someone who is a tourist there on the Big Island. He said there were some other folks at the hotel who were already thinking about packing their bags, getting in their car and heading to the airport, and were planning on just waiting it out when the airport would open.
So, you mentioned two very interesting things, in the Kona area, the hospital. I would think that there aren't a lot of options for those hospital patients, not a whole lot of hospitals in which to evacuate from one and to move to another, and the other thing, you talk about the two highways on the Kona side, pretty primary highways. If you can't get around on those highways, it is difficult to navigate that side, the west side of the Big Island period.
RICHARDSON: Exactly. There's pretty much, for many of the cities on the Kona side, Kona and the smaller cities, there's only one way in and one way out. There's just one main highway. The best thing for people to do is to stay where they are, and to listen for more updates.
WHITFIELD: And what are the options going to be for those hospital patients? If they leave one hospital in Kona, how far would they have to go to get hospital care?
RICHARDSON: You know, Fredricka, that's a good question, I'm not sure at this point, but there are other hospitals on the Big Island. There are hospitals on the Hilo side, and there are community clinics throughout the island, so, they are probably just going to have to get those patients out of there as quickly as possible and assess the situation. The main point is for them to get out of Kona Hospital, because they are not sure if there could be more structural damage.
WHITFIELD: Right. And I know I'm putting you in a tough position, because you are in Oahu about 150 miles north of the island, the Big Island which is where this activity is, and you have already established that communication and being able to do some reporting is very difficult. I appreciate that.
Now back to your island, then, and Oahu. Are there any scenarios that are similar? People that are, if they are in hospitals, or in any particular structures, and being asked to evacuate?
RICHARDSON: No, at this point, we're not hearing about an evacuations from any major centers on Oahu. And that's because a lot of these places have backup generators. Here in our newsroom we have a backup generator so we have power. It's just the residents that don't have power. That's why the electric company is just telling people to stay indoors, and not to drive this morning.
WHITFIELD: Okay. And, so, Mahea, give me an idea what kind of obstacles you are up against in trying to do your job today?
RICHARDSON: That's very interesting, because, at this point, normally, if there is a situation on the neighbor island, we can hop on a plane and get the video and get back to Honolulu right away, but at this point, no one can leave. I guess we could try to get a helicopter. I know the governor is in Kona right now, she's going to try to get a helicopter to get back to Honolulu where basically the main state civil defense is, so that she can get to the command center, but at this point, you know, our TV station, we can't broadcast right now, people are basically listening to the radio, and calling civil defense and other officials to get information.
WHITFIELD: And where are you located in Honolulu?
RICHARDSON: We are located in downtown Honolulu where it is raining. There are still people driving around. That's why it's important for people just to try to stay in to avoid any potential accidents that they may run into. Fred?
WHITFIELD: Great. Mahea Richardson, anchor with KITV there in Honolulu. Thanks so much for that update. We've got lots more ahead on this earthquake, originally measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale, and then an aftershock of 5.9. We'll be right back.
WHITFIELD: We're now on reports of an earthquake hitting the string of islands in Hawaii about two hours ago. Measuring 6.3, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, with an aftershock of 5.9. Lots of folks we are talking to are reporting various sightings, from seeing pictures falling off the walls, television off the stands, even reports of landslides on the Big Island, which is the southernmost island there on the map, and also, the place nearest the reported epicenter of this earthquake.
Thankfully, no tsunami warnings have been issued, however, we have been hearing from people in various ways, whether it be from their cell phones or their land lines or maybe even over the computer, we've been getting instant messaging from Gina Lynn Oda (ph), who says her parents' home is in shambles, they live in Waimea (ph), and she said that everyone in the neighborhood ran out of their homes screaming, wireless service is iffy. "It was so bad that my parents have a wood stove, and the exhaust pipe actually cracked and broke."
And we have heard from a couple of reporters that are in Honolulu on the island of Oahu, most popular to a lot of tourists, say that on the Big Island, at least one hospital near Kona is being evacuated because of structural damage to that hospital. It is unclear exactly where those patients are being taken.
Air traffic suspended. No one is going anywhere at this point. In fact, according to the reporters there in Hawaii, people are being asked to simply stay in their homes.
Let's find out more, if there is any potential to the first reports of earthquakes, of an earthquake and aftershock. Dr. Stewart Weinstein is the assistant director of the Pacific Tsunami Center. And Dr. Weinstein, these days, particular in the Pacific, people hear earthquake, they automatically start thinking about tsunami, because of what happened just about two years ago.
Talk to me about why a tsunami warning was not issued, what is it that has comforted you?
DR. STEWART WEINSTEIN, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, PACIFIC TSUNAMI CENTER: Well, the reason the tsunami warning wasn't issued is that the earthquake magnitude, which we had assessed at a 6.5 is below our threshold for issuing a warning, a tsunami warning to the Hawaiian Islands. Since then, of course, we've been carefully monitoring all of our sea level instruments, and fortunately, no destructive tsunami has materialized. So -- we're confident that there's not going to be any tsunami effect from this earthquake.
WHITFIELD: How far out are you able to make these kinds of detections?
WEINSTEIN: Well, this earthquake generated seismic waves that will be felt -- that will be detected globally. But we're relatively close here on Oahu, and within a couple of minutes, within two to three minutes, we were issuing a voice message over one of our voice warning circuits. And then within four minutes, we issued a formal tsunami information bulletin.
WHITFIELD: All right. And Dr. Stewart, let me just interrupt you for a moment, welcome our CNN International viewers now as we continue to look at what has and hasn't happened after a 6.3 earthquake has struck the area of the Island of Hawaii, the epicenter, right off the Big Island, off the west northern coast, and the aftershocks being felt as far north of the Island of Oahu, which is where the popular and capital city of Honolulu. So Dr. Weinstein with the Pacific Tsunami Center, one more time, reiterate why you felt it was important to quickly comfortable and let them know that no tsunami warning has been issued as a result of this earthquake.
WEINSTEIN: Right. Well, because of the size of this earthquake, it was felt in all of the major islands that make up the State of Hawaii, and of course, if you are living in a coastal area, you feel your house shake, I felt my house shake, for example. And if you're living in a coastal area and you feel your house shake strongly, then it's very natural in Hawaii to think that there is the possibility of a tsunami.
WHITFIELD: Where are you located exactly?
WEINSTEIN: We're located, the Pacific Tsunami Warning center is located in west Oahu, in the town of Eva Beach (ph).
WHITFIELD: So, describe for me what you felt this morning, about two hours ago?
WEINSTEIN: Well, I was just kind of still kind of in bed, we had been having this driving rainstorm, so I can't say it was sleeping all that well, and then I felt my house shake. And then I ran into the warning center. I live on site.
WHITFIELD: Oh, OK. So no damage to your structure.
WEINSTEIN: No, no damage to my house, no damage to the warning center. But commercial power is out here. So we are running on our generator.
WHITFIELD: When's the last time you remember an earthquake, particularly of this magnitude, hitting Oahu or any of ...
WEINSTEIN: I don't. I'm a relative newcomer to Hawaii. The last time there was an earthquake this magnitude range was 1983. So that was in the mid sixes ...
WHITFIELD: So people are a bit out of practice?
WEINSTEIN: No, I don't think so. We practice with a lot of the smaller earthquakes, you know? We treat them kind of seriously. We issue tsunami information messages for them, too. So, I think -- I don't think we were -- we certainly weren't out of practice. But obviously, given the magnitude of this event, the adrenaline was pumping a little bit more than normal.
WHITFIELD: So how do you convey the message to the people throughout Hawaii who are no doubt very nervous and very worried about whether there could potentially be a tsunami, given that so many people, the power is out, people don't have phones, no connection with a telephone -- with a radio or a television. How do you communicate to them?
WEINSTEIN: Yeah. That's kind of difficult. We are hoping that there are some radio stations working, perhaps National Weather Service radio, other than that, we -- for people who can still use their telephone, we've been fielding a great number of phone calls. For people who still have access to the Internet, the information is on our Web site.
WHITFIELD: And so how intimately will you be working with the USGS, or the U.S. Geological Survey or will you act independently?
WEINSTEIN: We act autonomously from them. But we certainly cooperate with them. We basically -- A lot of our data comes to us from the -- a lot of seismic data comes from the Big Island courtesy of the USGS. So there is a lot of cooperation but when there is an event like today, we operate autonomously.
WHITFIELD: And so how will you continue to monitor? Who are the things that you look for now, to detect if there are any unusual or any other seismic waves out there that need to be paid attention to?
WEINSTEIN: Right, well, we continuously monitor seismic activity globally, as well as in the State of Hawaii, so, you know, there have been a number of aftershocks, and we've been looking at all of those, or at least, all the ones that exceeded our detection threshold. So we are continually monitoring the seismic information. We are continuously looking at our sea level data, and so far, fortunately, there has been no destructive tsunami generated by this event.
WHITFIELD: And since the last big tsunami that everyone remembers in Southeast Asia, has it been a relative quiet season, since you are looking, globally, at seismic activity?
WEINSTEIN: Well, I don't think it's been that quiet. For example, back in July, there relatively large earthquake in the high sixes that generated a destructive tsunami off Java. And that killed something like 500 people in Indonesia. So I don't think it's necessarily been that quiet. But it hasn't been anything certainly nearly as large as the Sumatra earthquake.
WHITFIELD: And before I let you go, what are your biggest concerns now, this point forward, looking at the activity around the Hawaiian Islands?
WEINSTEIN: I guess our biggest concerns, really, are just for the people in the northwest section of the Big Island. We understand that a lot of damage was sustained there, and, you know, we're hoping that they're getting as much help as possible. For us, I mean, there certainly will be continuing aftershocks for awhile. I guess that will probably keep people on edge. Although, I'm not expecting any large aftershocks. To have another earthquake of this size within the next few days, I think, would be kind of unprecedented for the State of Hawaii.
WHITFIELD: Well, let's hope that doesn't happen.
WEINSTEIN: Yeah, let's hope not.
WHITFIELD: Our fingers are crossed. All right. Dr. Stewart Weinstein, assistant director of the Pacific Tsunami Center based in the west portion of Oahu, also being awakened this morning, about two hours ago from the big jolt that everyone else along the Hawaiian Islands felt, turns out to be a 6.3 magnitude earthquake. More on this story, when we come right back.
WHITFIELD: Welcome back. More now on the 6.3 magnitude quake being felt in Hawaii. The epicenter, taking place in the northwest corner of the Big Island, where about two hours ago, people reported being awakened by the big jolt, seeing pictures falling off the walls, TVs falling off the stands, and there on the Big Island, even reports of landslides. It has also knocked out power, and even phone service to many people along many of the islands there in Hawaii, and that is why our affiliate KITV, which is based in Honolulu, has been unable to reach a lot of its viewership via traditional television. So instead, they are streaming their broadcast online. We want to join that right now.
SHAWN CHING, ISLAND TELEVISION NEWS: We can tell you, it was a sizable earthquake, possibly 10 aftershocks, so, we can also tell you that, from the big island, the Kona Hospital and Long-Term Care Facility has been evacuated due to structural damage, and from the Island of Oahu, in regards to the power situation, there is no indication that the power will be back on any time soon. We are looking at possibly power out for 10 to 12 hours at this point for the island of Oahu so if you are at home, you need something from the fridge and if you can hold off please try and keep that refrigerator closed to keep it as cold as possible.
Again, if you have any information, you are asked to please call into our news room the number here is -- OK. I'm being told by my producer that we have a tape ready for you of what happened earlier if we can go to that. Here it comes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOVERNOR LINDA LINGLE, HI (R): No fatalities. Damage inside homes and to rock walls, boulders on the (INAUDIBLE) highway, but that's the extent of it. It was, as everybody knows around the state, it was a strong shock. Strong aftershock, but it seems as if everyone here is OK. There is no power in our area, but there are, I think, spotty areas on the Big Island that have some power.
Remain calm. Travel as little as possible right now, because the power is out on Oahu, our police department, in Honolulu is going to be strained, just with directing traffic and keeping people safe. So, if you don't have to leave, certainly, for the next few hours, just stay in your homes as much as possible, and, again, remain calm. We have no, no reports at all of any fatalities, and, again, we're still in the assessment stage, so, if you don't have to go out, don't go out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHING: That was Governor from the Big Island via telephone that was about a half hour ago. And now she says that they're in the assessment stage there, assessing the damage on all of the islands. The governor is now en route back to the island of Oahu.
The airports were closed statewide for a short period. They have just been reopened a short while ago. So again, the governor is back. The lieutenant governor is said to be at the civil defense headquarters in the crater at Diamondhead. OK, go ahead. OK. We have Captain Kealoha from the state civil defense on the telephone. Captain, can you hear me?
CAPTAIN KEALOHA, BIG ISLAND POLICE OFFICER: Yes, I can. Good morning.
CHING: Good morning. What's the latest? What can you share with us?
KEALOHA: Right now, we're dealing with - we're in assessment phase here on the Big Island. Speaking for the district of North and South Kona. We recalled most of our people, we're tending to the needs of the public right now. We have no reported loss of life yet.
However, we do have significant property damage, both private and public. We have partial road closures throughout west Hawaii, and right now, we're just making assessments and trying to deal with the needs of the public.
CHING: OK. Captain, when you say property damage, can you elaborate a little on that?
KEALOHA: Well, again, we are in the assessment phase. We have reports of damage at Kona Hospital, we don't know to what extent. Certainly, can I tell you that our own police department has been damaged, as well as the homes, private homes. We have -- we have a whole pile of landslides throughout west Hawaii right now.
CHING: OK. And you are located where, captain?
KEALOHA: I'm in Kalikale (ph) Kona and we're at the Kalikale police substation.
CHING: OK. Now the quake reportedly happened six miles offshore of Kona, right?
KEALOHA: I'm not certain on that, my understanding, it was about six miles north-northwest of Puana Ulu (ph). I haven't had the actual information as to a specific point, though.
CHING: OK. My question to you is, what was it like this morning for you, when the quake hit? Can you describe that for us?
KEALOHA: I was off of work, and can I tell you this, I knew I had to return. I have to check in. All of our officers have been real good about returning to work. We checked on our families first, and we are here right now, dealing with the community's needs right now, and we just want to emphasize, with the people out here, on the Big Island, that we're doing the best we can, and we're dealing with it right now.
CHING: I have a list in front of me, captain, of the areas, the buildings that have damaged, per Big Island civil defense. Kona Community Hospital reporting major structural damage. Yano Hall (ph) there on the Big Island, also Honaka (ph) Long-term Care Facility, Kohala Hospital (ph), Royal Kona Resort (ph), they are reporting major damage. Also Kona Gym. Also there is a gas leak at Maunalani (ph) Hotel. Is there anything else you can tell us about where else may have been affected?
KEALOHA: You know, I can confirm those damage reports here in north and south Kona. However, I can only tell you, this is just the beginning. I expect the private sector to be damaged -- damage will be extensive there, as well.
CHING: Captain, we are also getting reports that the ceilings of Wal-Mart and Safeway have collapsed there in Kona. Can you tell us is that something that's happened?
KEALOHA: I cannot confirm that at this point, sir. What we are doing right now is making sure that the public is OK. We are trying to present loss of life at this point.
CHING: OK, go ahead.
KEALOHA: And at this point, we haven't made an assessment of those two establishments.
CHING: For the people able to watch this broadcast on the Big Island, what can you tell them to do?
KEALOHA: If you don't need to travel, stay at home. Take care of your home first. Understand that we're out, and we'll respond to the needs of the community, but right now, you know, hang in there, and just be thankful that we're OK.
CHING: Can you tell us about your force level there?
KEALOHA: We've recalled, we have a approximately 70 to 80 officers right now on the road. Our capacity is about 100 and we'll be out there today.
CHING: How about the power situation on the Big Island?
KEALOHA: I am not certain what's going on there. I know we're on backup power here at Kalikea (ph) station, and I'm sure certainly there's pockets without electricity right now. But I cannot comment on that.
CHING: How about phone lines and the ability to communicate?
KEALOHA: It's starting to come up, of course, our cell phone circuits are in overload right now.
CHING: Have you had major reports of significant injuries or would you characterize them as minor injuries? How would you color that?
KEALOHA: That's what we're thankful right now. We have no reports of loss of life, and/or serious injuries, but then again we are still in the assessment phase. We are still a little early so we are crossing our fingers on that right now.
CHING: Captain, you guys on the Big Island experience quite a bit of these tremors every now and then quite frequently. How would you characterize this one this morning?
KEALOHA: It was -- it was -- I can recall having grown up here on the Big Island this is the third one of this type of extent, and, you know, I'm just thankful, again, so far, we haven't had any report of loss of life.
CHING: How about your personal residence? Any injuries or damage there to report?
KEALOHA: I'd rather not talk about that right now.
CHING: OK. I can fully understand that. But again, just to recap, some reports of major structural damage in buildings centered, I guess, along the Kona side of the island. Is that accurate to say?
CHING: OK. And also you are urging people to stay home, to stay off the roads? And to stay off the telephone?
KEALOHA: Yes. Yes. Keep the emergency lines open. Stick to your loved ones. Stay close to home. If there's no need to travel, don't. And we're out there we'll do what we can. You know, to get people home safely that's away from home right now. CHING: Well, captain, thank you for taking the time out of your incredibly busy morning, I'm sure to speak with us at KITV. We'll be in touch with you throughout the morning to check back and to see what further updates you may have for us.
KEALOHA: Thank you very much, Shawn.
CHING: Have a good rest of the morning. Thank you very much. Captain Kealoha from the Big Island civil defense, the police department there in Kilua (ph) Kona. I'm going to throw it to Pamela Young in our newsroom with an update. Pam, are you there?
PAMELA YOUNG, ISLAND TELEVISION NEWS: Thank you, Shawn. We do have a report, there is a collapsed ceiling, this is confirmed, at Killer Tacos in Kona. On the phone right now I have Brian Cheplic from Honolulu Emergency services. Brian, what do you have to report, Brian?
BRYAN CHEPLIC, EMS SPOKESPERSON: Well, I'm just calling in to let you folks now that the Honolulu Emergency Services Department is operating like a normal day of business. Our paramedics, as well as our lifeguards have been asked to report to duty.
The only exception to that is Hanamade (ph) is closed for the day due to the lack of power. We're also asking is, please, for the public, not to use the 911 network for non-emergency phone calls. The 911 network has been inundated with non-emergency phone calls. We rely on that 911 system for emergency calls only and we need to use that to get to people that do have medical emergencies and what have you.
So if you can, we're asking the public, just to please, just not use 911 network for non-emergency phone calls. Other than that, business as usual. We are traveling a little bit more cautiously on the roadways. We are affected by the light signals out, as well. So we are traveling with caution. Our paramedics are traveling with caution.
YOUNG: Brian, Ray Level (ph) from state civil defense said that although there is no tsunami generated, that there might be some effect on the tides, and for people to stay out of the water and out of the more secluded coves. Would you advise -- anyone out on the water, right now, what advice do you have for them?
CHEPLIC: I agree with Ray on that. Unfortunately, there were people already in the water this morning that may not be aware there was an earthquake or what have you. Thankfully the weather is a little bit bad, so, hopefully that will discourage people from going to the beaches.
So if at all possible, yeah, just stay out of the water. Our lifeguards will be out on the beaches, and they'll be advising people, as well. They are going to be there all day, like a normal day. So if at all possible, stay indoors, stay out of the water. Just for one day, at least. There's another swell coming later on this week so people just be patient. YOUNG: Is there any move to get the Coast Guard out there, any other emergency services, to let people out on the water know about what has just happened?
CHEPLIC: That I'm not aware of that. You would probably have to check with the Coast Guard on that. I know that the emergency operation center has been stood up, and we have some personnel staffing down there. So, that's something you might have to check with the Coast Guard with.
YOUNG: So far no major incidents on the road?
CHEPLIC: No, ma'am.
YOUNG: Thank you. That was Brian Cheplic from Honolulu Emergency Services. Shawn, back to you.
CHING: OK. Thank you very much, Pam, in our newsroom. We're going to go to Bill Wong, a resident of North Kohala who is on the telephone. Good morning, Bill. Bill, can you hear me?
BILL WONG, RESIDENT OF NORTH KOHALA: Yes, I can hear you.
CHING: What's it like up there in the Big Island for you?
WONG: Well, boy, I tell you, that was a big one. We're up here in the North Kohala, and damage is quite extensive. There's 100-year- old sugar mill stack here that stood about 80 to 100 feet tall, and it collapsed to rubble, and it's been here many years. A historic landmark in Havi Town (ph) in North Kohala, and it's gone.
There's been landslides on the roads, water damage, water line damage, and houses, some houses actually moved off their structures. Probably the biggest earthquake, I think, we've felt here.
CHING: How long have you lived there, Bill?
WONG: I'm a fourth generation resident of North Kohala. I've lived here my entire life.
CHING: You have quite a perspective on the earthquake situation there on the Big Island.
So, describe your morning for you, 7:00, you were in bed presumably?
WONG: Yeah, we were just getting out of bed and the house started shaking. And I thought it was going to be mild little earthquake, but what happened after that, everything is damage. All of our TVs fell off. All of our shelves fell off. Our stove actually moved about eight inches away from the wall, and everything is just devastated. Everything is just damaged and broken and gone.
CHING: Was it the initial shock that was the big one for you folks there, or were there subsequent aftershocks that proved to be larger? WONG: It was the initial shock , and it seemed like it lasted longer than ever. It just kept shaking. We could hear things crashing and falling. And it was quite devastating. And the aftershock was pretty strong, too, but not as strong at the initial quake.
CHING: How many did you guys feel there of the aftershocks? I know here on the island of Oahu, I myself was in Omawanu (ph) and I felt a large one and then it got smaller and smaller but I felt probably three or four of those aftershocks. How many did you folks feel there on the Big Island?
WONG: We felt two of them for sure. The main quake and the aftershock we were out in the yard and the whole house was rocking, it was swaying from left to right so it was quite an experience.
CHING: Any injuries up there, Bill, to report with your family or any of your neighbors? Have you heard anything?
WONG: None so far, and as far as we can see, everyone here is fine. We also operate a business here in Kohala, and our building where our business is, shaken up quite bad, too. But no injuries to report, and that's the good news out of this.
CHING: What business is that, Bill?
WONG: We own a tour company called ATV Outfitters.
CHING: ATV Outfitters. So, you folks go into the mountains ...
WONG: We go into the mountains and down to the ocean cliffs, so it's going to be interesting tomorrow morning to scope out our trails and our routes, make sure that it's all safe to ride in the next few weeks, because we expect some extensive damage up in the rugged mountains of North Kohala, as well.
CHING: You mentioned rock slides. What areas can you tell us where these rockslides have occurred?
WONG: Mainly, on Akunafule (ph) Highway, one mile past the King Kamehameha statue, northbound, the road was a one-lane road near an area called the Bonestates (ph). The banks were collapsed down on the ground. Trees. It was -- it was like a war zone. It was scary to see, actually, driving through there this morning.
CHING: Have you had a chance to speak with any of your neighbors nearby?
WONG: Yeah, and everyone has been fine, but our (INAUDIBLE) here, they had extensive damage to his house as well. We have another home down the road and it suffered structural damage, rock wall broke, foundation just broke. Concrete steps moved away from the house, I mean, it shook right away from the house, so ...
CHING: Do you guys have power up there, Bill? WONG: Currently right now, we do have power back on. We did lose power immediately right after the earthquake, but currently power is back on in our area.
CHING: And obviously the phone system is up and working or are you on your cell phone at this point?
WONG: No. I'm on a regular land line at this point. Our phone systems are working as well.
CHING: Bill, it's been quite a morning for the State of Hawaii, so we want to thank you for taking the time out to give us a call. If you could just hold on the line, we're going to have one of our producers speak with you off the air, get some more information, and if you hear anything else, please, don't hesitate to give us a call here at KITV, so, again, your are reporting rock slides in the North Kohala area, a smokestack from a 100-year-old sugar mill collapsed this morning, and you are reporting extensive property damage for your home and some of your neighbors, as well.
CHING: OK. Thank you.
WONG: Thank you, Shawn.
CHING: Thank you very much. Bill Wong, North Kohala resident calling in. He's reporting that his power is back on, phone service is working.
OK. All right.
We are on the fly here. We are live here at KITV television news. Again you can tune into our Web site, thehawaiichannel.com for the latest information on our Web site. We have crews in the field. We have crews on the island of Maui, and the Big Island, and covering the island of Oahu. And we will have the latest for you as we gather as much information as we can.
Again, the information is coming in to our newsroom at a pretty furious clip. So we're trying to sort through it and digest it as it comes to us so we can tell you, again, that there was and earthquake, about 7:08 this morning. Registered about 6.3, 6.5 or the Richter scale that's according to the U.S. Geological Survey. There were several aftershocks afterwards. Again, six minutes later, 5.8 is the reported magnitude of the aftershock here, that we felt.
Again, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center is says that possibly 10 aftershocks ranging anywhere from 2.5 to 3.5 on the Richter scale, and they are saying that it may be the biggest earthquake since 1983, so, for quite some time. Want to go to Pamela Young in the newsroom with an update. Pam?
YOUNG: Hi, the big question right now, is when are we going to get power back. Right now, we have Janet Crawford from Hawaiian Electric with an update. Janet, how does it look? JANET CRAWFORD, HECO: Well, I just wanted to tell you, that of course, everybody on the island felt the earthquake this morning, and following the earthquake, the HECO power generators shut down automatically, they have safety devices installed on them that will shut them down when they detect instability on the system. This is a protective measure for the generators. And so we're glad that's happened. Unfortunately people are without power.
Our crews have responded immediately, and we have crews working as quickly as possible. They are out, throughout the island, and they are checking the power distribution system. And they are checking it visually, if repairs are going to be need the repairs will have to take effect first, but, right now, we're checking the system. And when it has been determined that the distribution system is sound, power will be very methodically and very gradually restored.
YOUNG: Will there be rolling turn-ons?
CRAWFORD: I didn't hear you well. I think you asked about ...
YOUNG: Will the power be restored rolling across the island or all at once?
CRAWFORD: It will be restored gradually. So, certain sectors will receive power before others, and we will make sure that each section maintains stability as we gradually bring up sectors of the island.
YOUNG: Now, what about power to hospitals and other emergency services?
CRAWFORD: Here at Hawaiian Electric Company, we do have a system for restoring those critical customers first, and so, we have, given that the distribution line will be sound to those area, we do have a way for restoring certain customers of greater importance, of greater need, like the hospitals, that you recommended -- just mentioned.
YOUNG: OK. Now we have reports that there is some power on Kaui (ph) and also the Big Island. Are the systems different from ours on Oahu?
CRAWFORD: Each system is an independent system. So, if they have power, don't have power, it's because of the issues that they are facing on their own system.
YOUNG: Now, several people have called concerned about their water usage because during Hurricane Inike (ph) a lot of people lost their water pressure, because their pumps in their area are generated by electricity. What do you recommend for them?
CRAWFORD: Well, I can't speak for the water authority. I will tell you that just as other people are striving to get information as I was driving into work, I did hear that the water conversation message out on the radio from the Water Department, but you should probably talk to them about that. YOUNG: OK. Any idea of what areas would be restored -- this is just information that's coming in to you, as soon as your dispatchers give you information?
CRAWFORD: Right. We've got -- the entire company is mobilized, and we will be getting a briefing, and we will know more later on, as to the system, at this time, I can't tell you that.
YOUNG: OK. Thank you very much, Janet Crawford, from Hawaiian Electric.
CRAWFORD: Thank you.
YOUNG: Back to you, Shawn.
CRAWFORD: Thank you very much, Pam. Again, we can tell you, we are getting a report from the Big Island that power is coming back on from parts of Hilo. And if you just heard a few minutes, Bill Wong, a resident of North Kohala said he does have power in the North Kohala- Havi (ph) area. So the Big Island power situation is coming back online slowly. There are a lot of areas of the island, unconfirmed, without power. That's according Captain Kealoha from the Big Island civil defense.
We can tell you that there are major - there are buildings there with some major structural damage. Kona Community Hospital, Yano (ph) Hall, Hanokaho (ph) Long-Term Care Facility, Kohala Hospital, the Royal Resort, reporting major structural damage, also Kona Gym and the Manolani (ph) Hotel reports a gas leak and we do have a confirmed report that the ceiling collapsed at Killer Tacos.
I'm not sure exactly where Killer Tacos is located, I'm assuming that, and I hate to assume, but I'm saying that's somewhere in the Kona area. We have unconfirmed reports that the ceiling at Wal-Mart and Safeway collapsed as well. Now those reports are unconfirmed and Captain Kealoha could not comment further on that.
They are in the assessment stage right now as they go through in trying to determine the extent of the damage there. He did tell us that they have no reports of any fatalities on the Big Island. Of course, no reports of any fatalities that we are hearing across the state. But he has said that there are some reports of people sustaining some injuries, and there is significant property damage on the island of Hawaii at this time.
So, again, things shaken up pretty badly there on the Big Island. A 6.5 magnitude earthquake happening at about 7:08 this morning. Quite a number of aftershocks, occurred possibly 10, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. They too are in the assessment stage. They have told us it is the biggest since 1983. They are assuming that is the biggest, they are still going through some of the data. They are saying that 10 aftershocks, anywhere between 2.5 and 3.5 on the Richter scale.
Turning to the island of Kauai, we have some viewers e-mailing us that some power has been restored. We are unclear as to what area on the island of Kauai, but the aftershock was felt and the initial quake was felt as far away as the island of Kauai in Lahui (ph) there. That is our latest report, we have from the island of Kauai.
If you have any information, and you are on that island of Kauai or any island, for that matter please, give us a call at the KITV-4 newsroom. You can reach us here at area code 808-535-0440. Perhaps we can get that number up on the screen for you if you would like to give us a call. You can also logon to thehawaiichannel.com, our Web site, and we will have the latest information for you there.
You can also send us e-mails to thehawaiichannel.com reporting any damage. If you have any photographs that you have taken of any structural damage anywhere, please, if you are able to, send that to us, and we will put that on the air as soon as we are able to.
Again, that's thehawaiichannel.com. You can log on and check any information and send us any information, as well, and you can call into us. We have a full staff here at KITV. We are efforting to bring you the latest information. We have crews on some of the other islands. When we get that information on our newsroom we will share that with you.
So just to recap, again. State civil defense is operational. There was a large earthquake this morning, jolted out of bed, I was, as I'm sure many of you were, at about 7:08. No tsunami warning was issued that coming from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.
Again, they are saying it is possibly the largest earthquake since 1983. We can tell you that weather-wise, unfortunately, it was raining this morning, so, a flash flood watch remains in effect for the islands of Kauai and Mihihau (ph), and Ray Lovell (ph) from state civil defense, as Pamela mentioned earlier in her interview with him urged people to stay home, stay off the phones, and while there was no tsunami generated, it may have some impact, some effect on the tides here, and to stay away from the shoreline in some areas, any kind of those isolated coves where the ability to evacuate is limited, so, until further notice, stay away from those sorts of areas, just to be safe.
We have -- we do have reports on the island, the Big Island of Hawaii, parts of Highway 190 closed due to rock fall damage, again, Bill Wong, our contact there in North Kohala, a resident there, in Havi (ph) said that a significant rock slide, he said, nine rock slides. He counted. He also reported to us that a 100-year-old smokestack from a sugar mill plantation there collapsed, is now rubble, according to him.
He said that there are parts of Konapuli (ph) highway that are now closed. This is in the North Kohala district on the island of Hawaii. We are still awaiting reports from the island of Maui. We can tell that you the Maui International Airport was closed, I'm unclear if it is open, I'm hearing that it is open, statewide airports were closed, but the Maui Airport was closed due to structural damage. There were some light fixtures that had fallen, according to Rod Turaga (ph), the transportation director from the state of Hawaii. The airports opened, probably about, maybe about an hour ago, but the flights were closed -- canceled, and airports shut down. The governor, Governor Linda Lingle was on the island of Hawaii, in the Hilo area. She's on her way back to the island of Oahu. If we can go to that tape that we showed you earlier, we can recap some of the stuff. Also the governor, via telephone, on the radio, in her assessment of what has happened. Let's listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
LINGLE: The bottom line here is no fatalities. Damage inside homes and to rock walls. Boulders on the (INAUDIBLE) highway, but that's the extent of it.
It was, as everybody knows around the state, it was a strong shock. Strong aftershock, but it seems as if everyone here is OK. There was no power in our area, but there are, I think, spotty areas on the Big Island that have some power. Remain calm. Travel as little as possible right now, because the power is out on Oahu, our police department, in Honolulu is going to be strained just with directing traffic and keeping people safe.
So, if you don't have to leave, certainly, for the next few hours, just stay in your home, and -- as much as possible. And again, remain calm. We have no report at all of any fatalities, and, again, we're still in the assessment phase, so, if you don't have to go out, don't go out.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
CHING: That was Governor Lingle from the Big Island. Again, she's on her way back to the island of Oahu. She may already have arrived here. The lieutenant governor is reportedly at the state civil defense headquarters in the Diamondhead Crater. I want to go to the newsroom now and Pam Young for an update. Pam, what do you have?
YOUNG: Hi. We have a Honokaa resident, Nancy Hayes on the line. Nancy, something was -- big was going on Honokaa when this earthquake struck.
NANCY HAYES, HONOKAA RESIDENT (on phone): Right. We were having our cow horse championships at the Honokaa Arena, and, folks hadn't all arrived yet, and what we are hearing, some of the folks that are trailing horses from Hilo, one of the gulches, one of the three gulches, on the way from Honokaa from Hilo are closed out due to rockslides.
YOUNG: Now where were you when it struck?
YOUNG: Where were you when it struck?
HAYES: I was at the arena. At the horse show arena. I went home. I live in Honokaa and my refrigerator door had come open and the contents of my refrigerator were on the floor, broken glass, I heard from other folks that windows have blown out in the area. One of the competitors, her house came off of its foundation, so, we've had some pretty extreme damage, but the electric's back.
YOUNG: OK. We understand that there are some ranchers up north who are out in the pasture with their horses. Could you sense from the horses that something was happening, how did they react?
HAYES: Right, well, some of the folks in the Wanea (ph) area, they were warming up their horses for our event, and they started to bolt, it was hard to tell what was going on top of a horse. From what they heard, some of the young horses didn't know what was going on and they actually jumped out of their fences and running around. Trailers were shaking on the road. A friend of mine called and said she thought something was wrong with her trailer. When she got out, she realized what was happening.
YOUNG: So now are some of the folks stranded because of the road situation?
HAYES: Well, I'm not sure about that, because the cell phones are petty much all knocked out. The one person we could talk to was coming from Hilo. And the first gulch just past Mindule (ph) was impassable. They were going to try to turn around and come down the road, but if the epicenter was more west Hawaii, they might not have much luck over there either.
YOUNG: What does it look like right now where you are?
HAYES: Well, I'm in my home, glass broken everywhere, refrigerator contents are spilled out. In town, in Honokaa town, there's lots of small rocks in the road. The Catholic Church stonewall fence (ph), half of it came down from about 10 feet, so, that's in the middle of the road. Not a lot of traffic on the highway, I'm guessing, I think, a bridge in Pawilo (ph), I heard a report that a bridge is impassible. I don't know what that means. I don't think it fell down. I think it's cracked beyond safety.
YOUNG: OK. Thank you very much. That was Nancy Hayes, Honokaa resident from the Big Island. Thank you Nancy. Back to you, Shawn.
CHING: Thank you very much, Pam. We now have on the phone, Michael Thomas from the island of Hawaii in Waimea. Hi, Michael, can you hear me?
MICHAEL THOMAS, WAIMEA RESIDENT: Yeah, I can.
CHING: How is it going up there?
THOMAS: It's good. It's bad but it's good. We're all OK, but the houses (INAUDIBLE).
CHING: OK. I think we are having some audio difficulties with Michael there. We'll try and get him back on the air as soon as possible.
We have a caller from Wailuku on Maui who called into our newsroom. He reports that the power went out this morning after the quake but that it just came back on at 9:30 this morning. Again, this is on the island of Maui in Wailuku. The power back on at about 9:30 this morning.
Also a caller from Pahoa on the Big Island, he said that power never went out in Pahoa on the Big Island. That is in the Puna (ph) district on the Hilo side. He said that the power did not go out this morning so we are having reports of power outages on the Big Island in various locations (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a civil emergency warning from state civil defense. The 6.5 magnitude earthquake that occurred at 7:08 a.m. Hawaii Standard Time today off the west coast of the Big Island has triggered power outages and reduced telephone service. The quake did not generate a tsunami. Residents of all islands are urged to stay off the roads and highways due to the loss of electrical traffic signals. Please do not use your telephone or cell phone except in cases of emergency. Again, to assist in the response of this earthquake, please stay off the roads and highways, and do not tie up telephone or cell phone circuits.
Listen to radio or television broadcasts for further information. We repeat, this is a civil emergency message from state civil defense. The 6.5-magnitude earthquake that occurred at 7:08 a.m. Hawaii Standard Time off the west coast of the big island has triggered power outages and reduced telephone service. The quake did not generate a tsunami.
Residents of all islands are urged to stay off the roads and highways. Due to the loss of electrical traffic signals, do not use your telephone or cell phone except in case of emergencies. To assist in the response to the earthquake, please stay off the roads and highways, do not tie up telephone or cell phone circuits. Listen to radio or television broadcasts for further information. This is a civil emergency message.
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