A strong earthquake shook Hawaii, jolting residents out of bed and causing a landslide that blocked a major highway. Hundreds of hotel guests and hospital patients were evacuated, and aftershocks kept the state on edge.
Governor Linda Lingle issued a disaster declaration for the entire state, saying there had been damage to buildings and roads. There were no reports of fatalities, but the state Civil Defense had several reports of minor injuries.
The quake hit at 7:07am on Sunday, 16km north-northwest of Kailua Kona, a town on the west coast of Hawaii Island, also known as the Big Island, said Don Blakeman of the National Earthquake Information Center, part of the US Geological Survey.
Blakeman said there was no risk of a Pacific-wide tsunami, but there was a possibility of significant wave activity in Hawaii.
The Pacific Tsunami Center reported a preliminary magnitude of 6.5, while the US Geological Survey gave a preliminary magnitude of 6.6. The earthquake was followed by several strong aftershocks the Geological Survey said. Experts said aftershocks could continue for weeks.
"We were rocking and rolling," said Anne LaVasseur, who was on the second floor of a two-story, wood-framed house on the east side of the Big Island when the temblor struck. "I was pretty scared. We were swaying back and forth, like King Kong's pushing your house back and forth."
Mayor Harry Kim estimated that as many as 3,000 people were being evacuated from three hotels on the Big Island. Brad Kurokawa, Hawaii County deputy planning director, confirmed the hotels were damaged, but could not say how many people had left.
Water pipes exploded at Aston Kona By The Sea, an 86-unit condominium resort, creating a dramatic waterfall down the front of the hotel from the fourth floor, said Kenneth Piper, who runs the front desk.
"We are a concrete building, but we really shook. You could almost see the cars bouncing up and down in the parking garage," he said.