Usually I'm amazed at how fast people find out about earthquakes here. And half the time people write and ask if all is well and I haven't even known there was an earthquake. We get little ones all the time here, but today was the biggest I've ever felt. It was a 7.6 lasting 15 seconds (which felt like forever!) with the epicenter about 30 miles NW from where we live on Efate island. I was working in the office at the time and things definitely got shaken around and tipped over. We have some friends who were mildly hurt, but everyone is ok. A few taller buildings have been moderately damaged, but fortunately the 2 story building I live in is fine. Here are some links about the earthquake. This one: Fox news article is a bit dramatic and this one: Australian Broadcast Co article is probably more realistic. Seven plus hours later though, we're still getting aftershocks, crazy!
Our teammates, the Kenners, were scheduled to depart at 4PM today to head back to the US. They were late leaving, waiting on the runway for a latecomer. As they were taxiing to go out, the earthquake hit and shook up the plane. An engineer was called to look it over and said it looked fine, but the pilot was uncomfortable taking off. So about 6:30Pm everyone was kicked off the plane and the flight was canceled. The airport officials spent the next several hours calling hotels here to find rooms to put up the 100+ passengers. I took the Kenners to their hotel around 10PM. WOW, great place to stay, too bad they couldn't have more time there! :) I have all their luggage so they have to sleep in their clothes, but tomorrow AM I go pick them up early to go back to the airport and they fly on to Fiji. In Fiji, the airline will have to put people up yet again as flights only go a few times a week from there to LA. So pray that they will be able to sleep, relax, and enjoy these times in these great hotels and not worry about all their luggage! Pray too that they'll make it back to the US safe and sound, in God's timing. :)