Image: Waiting for supplies
Marco Garcia / Ap
Tourist and locals line up outside an ABC store waiting to buy essentials on Sunday.
updated 10/16/2006 11:15:32 AM ET 2006-10-16T15:15:32

The strongest earthquake to hit Hawaii in 20 years turned a paradise dream vacation for many into a nightmare.

In Waikiki, one of the state’s busiest tourism areas, worried visitors on Sunday began lining up outside darkened convenience stores to buy food, water and other supplies. Managers, fearful of chaos, let tourists in one at a time.

Karie and Bryan Croes waited an hour to buy bottles of water, chips and bread. The newlyweds had never been in an earthquake before.

“It’s quite a honeymoon story,” said Karie, as she and her husband sat in lounge chairs surrounded by grocery bags at ResortQuest Waikiki Beach Hotel.

The quake — estimated to be between 6.5 and 6.6 magnitude — hit at 7:07 a.m. local time, 10 miles north-northwest of Kailua Kona, a town on the west coast of Hawaii Island, also known as the Big Island, said Don Blakeman, a geophysicist at the National Earthquake Information Center, part of the U.S. Geological Survey.

Officials said there was no danger of a tsunami, though choppier-than-usual waves were expected in some places. Beaches were devoid of sunbathers and largely deserted, save for a few dozen die-hard surfers in Waikiki.

Big Island Mayor Harry Kim estimated that as many as 3,000 people were being evacuated from three hotels on the island. Brad Kurokawa, Hawaii County deputy planning director, confirmed the hotels were damaged but could not say how many people had left. They were being taken to a gymnasium until alternate accomodations could be found, he said. Video: Riding out the quake

Many with vacation plans found themselves bogged down in flight delays. Airports were functioning despite the power outages, though travel was difficult and some flights were being canceled, officials said.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Les Dorr said planes were arriving at Honolulu International Airport, but there were few departures. Dorr said the Transportation Security Administration security checkpoints were without power, so screeners were screening passengers and baggage manually.

Resorts in Kona were being asked to keep people close to hotels, Kim told television station KITV. Cruise ships were asked to keep tourists on board, and ships that were due to dock with tourists were asked to move on to their next location, he said.

“We are dealing with a lot of scared people,” he said.

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.

Some tourists were looking on the bright side, however. John Heilbrunn, of Houston, was in Honolulu for a weeklong cruise. He said he hoped the airport was up and running by the end of the week — but wouldn’t mind if it wasn’t.

“If it’s not, I’ll have to stay longer. Darn,” he said.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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