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Hawaii Officials Assess Damage After Strong Quake Rocks Islands


Authorities are assessing damage from a strong earthquake that rocked Hawaii early Sunday. There are no reports of deaths, but there are minor injuries, power outages, and structural damage.

The earthquake struck at 7:07 Sunday morning, 10 kilometers off the west coast of Hawaii Island, also known as the Big Island. The U.S. Geological Survey assigned the quake a preliminary magnitude of 6.6.

Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle declared a statewide emergency, as local and federal officials began assessing the damage.

John Bellini of the U.S. Geological Survey says the quake also caused problems on the island of Oahu, home to the state's major city, Honolulu.

"There have been power outages on Oahu as well as in part of the big island of Hawaii, and minor damage to buildings and some landslides," he said.

Harry Kim, mayor of the Big Island, says two hospitals were evacuated because of structural damage, and officials made an appeal to the population.

"Asking people to stay off the highway, stay off the phones, prevent any kind of additional congestion that may occur because of their presence," said Kim. "On the highways, we do have numerous highways that have been closed because of slides or different type of damages, and we need to identify and secure the areas before we get people on the highway."

Close to the quake's epicenter, a police captain in the city of Kailua Kona had received reports of significant damage to buildings and roads.

"Severe structural damage, certainly, as well as our infrastructure, our roadways," said the captain. "We have several road closures throughout this district of Kailua Kona.

A hotel clerk named Jane felt the quake on the island of Maui, another major tourist destination.

"We did feel the earthquake on our island," she said. "Right now as we speak, there is no electricity."

A federal aviation official said planes were arriving at Honolulu airport after the quake, but there were few departures because the airport had lost its electricity and screeners were unable to process passengers. Emergency generators provided power for air traffic controllers, and a number of flights that had been heading for Hawaii were diverted to the U.S. West Coast.

The islands have been rocked by dozens of aftershocks.

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