Monday, April 30, 2012

Small Earthquake in Neiafu

Last night around 11pm local time we were just dozing off to sleep when we felt a rumbling that lasted about 5 seconds. An earthquake! And quite close! That sure woke us up!

We are on a mooring in about 40' of water, so it was interesting that we actually heard and felt the earthquake. It was a little different than the ones we felt aboard in Guatemala--where it actually moved the boat enough to shake the rigging. This time it just felt like rumbling, no big shaking.

Within minutes, the local VHF net was buzzing with people asking what had happened and if there was a tsunami coming. One lady was worried about her kids who were spending Saturday night at someone else's house on another island. Primrose (a local Tongan) asked "which way is the Tsunami coming from"?

Unfortunately, Baker, the local expat who normally would be on top of stuff like this was out of commission--his internet has been down for a few days. But Mike from the Aquarium came on from home via hand-held. His internet was working, and was able to look up the info on the internet.

The quake (according the Hawaii earthquake site) was centered about 31 miles SW of Neiafu, but located 72 miles (miles!!??) deep in the ocean. Since it was so close, we knew that whatever would happen, tsunami-wise, would happen within minutes. (A statistic given out on the radio during the discussion was that the waves travel around 600 MPH, so it would have hit us within 3-4 minutes).

Someone who was standing on a beach at an island on the SW side of Neiafu reported they saw nothing unusual going on with the water (no rapid receding of the water, which normally precedes any incoming waves).

We all stayed awake and worried for a little while. But fortunately, no tsunami was generated. There were also no reports of any significant damage around here from the quake itself, on this morning's VHF net.

So we dodged another natural disaster, here in exciting Tonga!!

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