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Honduras earthquake rattles nerves of divers, anglers throughout Caribbean

May 28, 2009 |  9:49 am

Turneffe Flats Lodge Picture
When the 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck the Caribbean region at 2:24 a.m. today, scuba-diving tourists near the epicenter on the island of Roatan fled from dwellings and those on the island's low-lying west end ran into the hills.

Residents and employees did too.

"Everybody got out of the house instantly, " said PJ Rowntree, owner of Coconut Tree Divers on the small island beyond Honduras, which received the most damage. "Many of them ran off in their night clothes."

The earthquake, centered offshore beyond Honduras, reportedly killed at least two people and toppled more than two dozen homes in Honduras and Belize to the north. It also collapsed a bridge spanning Honduras' largest river, the Ulua. However, in Belize, which also is a diving and fly-fishing paradise, tourist areas seemed to weather the shaking. 

Jake Sinna, general manager of Turneffe Flats resort on a small offshore atoll, said,  "I thought it was a thunderstorm moving in, but when the house shook for about 10 seconds I realized that it must be something else, like an earthquake. After inspection of my surroundings, I quickly turned to others who might be in need of assistance."

Sinna said, "Everything is back to normal" on Turneffe Atoll (pictured) and seemingly throughout Belize City.

In Honduras and remote areas in Belize, however, residents were being urged not to panic. The earthquake, which was felt elsewhere in Central America as well, occurred four months after a 6.2-magnitude earthquake killed dozens of residents and stranded hundreds of tourists in remote areas of Costa Rica.

Thankfully, the Honduras quake, because it was centered offshore, was not so destructive. Outposts will try to update this item later today.

— Pete Thomas

Photo of Turneffe Atoll courtesy of Turneffe Flats resort


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