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Moderate quake strikes off Hawaii island; no tsunami generated

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A moderate earthquake struck in the deep ocean off Hawaii island Tuesday afternoon but did not generate a tsunami, officials said.

The quake, with a magnitude of 5.3, struck at about 2:12 p.m. and was centered 34 miles southeast of Pahala and 31 miles south of Kalapana, at a depth of about 25 miles, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The quake initially was listed as a magnitude 5.2, briefly upgraded to 5.6 before USGS scientists reassessed and downgraded it to a magnitude 5.3.

No tsunami was generated but "some areas may have experienced strong shaking," according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Ewa Beach.

“It was a pretty significant jolt,” said Darryl Oliveira, director of the Hawaii County Civil Defense, who was on his way to the county building for a hearing when the earthquake occurred.

The USGS received hundreds of responses from people who reported feeling the shaking, including several from as far as Honolulu, nearly 400 miles from the epicenter.

The USGS intensity scale lists the quake as having "moderate" shaking and "very light" damage.

There are no immediate reports of any structural damage, said Oliveira.

While there is no tsunami threat to the islands, Oliveira said the agency still issued a mass notification via text messages, e-mail and radio broadcasts to inform residents on Hawaii island of what had occurred.

“They come to expect us to inform them and that they are not at further risk,” he added.

Rick Giese, owner of Hawaiian Island Floral, a wholesale business at Hawaiian Paradise Park, said he was sitting at his desk doing bookkeeping when he heard a deep rumbling sound.

A second later, his two-story home started to shake. “I did jump up,” said Giese. He headed toward the door to exit his home when the earthquake stopped a few seconds later.

He said the shaking wasn’t as severe as the magnitude 6.7 quake that struck the island in 2006.

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