Asia Dive News : Divers escape Solomon Islands tsunami
Witnesses say it was like a huge explosion - a magnitude 8.0 earthquake and tsunami that hit the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific. Officials say at least 13 people were killed, but they expect that number to go up.
Workers at an Englewood dive shop got a big scare when they heard the news.
From A-1 Scuba's quiet swimming pool in Englewood, people of all ages train to scuba dive so they can visit some of the most exotic spots on Earth. The store has its own travel department that books trips all over the globe. Usually the worst that happens is someone's luggage might get lost. But news of a tsunami in the Solomon Islands hit way too close to home.
Shop owners Scott and Lynn Taylor and 18 other divers are there on a two-week diving excursion. Their son and store manager, Shane Taylor, says he was a little worried when he found out about the earthquake and tsunami. "Always concerned, you hear something of that magnitude and that's worth getting up out of your chair, for sure."
He and store employees were relieved to get an email this morning saying everything's okay.
"Basically that they're on a beautiful boat, the crew and conditions are great and that they're aware of the earthquake, but they're not close to that area, they're not expecting to be affected by it," said Taylor.
The group is living and diving off of a ship, which scientists say is probably safer during a tsunami than being onshore. Dr. David Wald with the National Earthquake Center in Golden says the death toll could have been much higher if the 8.0 quake had happened in a more populated area. He says, "We can't predict earthquakes and in terms of warning, you have a little bit of warning time for tsunamis, but if you're close to the earthquake, you don't get much time."
As for the Colorado diving group, Shane says they're an experienced and rugged bunch. "I'm definitely expecting some good stories and some good video footage from our group."
The 8.0 quake is the strongest to hit the region since 1971. Since the initial earthquake, there have been more than 20-strong aftershocks.