TSUNAMI SCARE: Isabella Nichols and Laura Poncini (inset) are off to the world junior surf titles in Ecuador.
TSUNAMI SCARE: Isabella Nichols and Laura Poncini (inset) are off to the world junior surf titles in Ecuador. Geoff Potter

Earthquake shock for Coast surfers in Ecuador

TWO of the Sunshine Coast's best young surfers were at Sydney airport yesterday, waiting for a flight to Ecuador, when they heard South America had been rocked by a violent earthquake.

Five people died and many more are feared injured after the 8.2 magnitude earthquake struck 86km off the Chilean coast, generating a tsunami.

Isabella Nichols and Laura Poncini were heading to Ecuador for the ISA World Junior Surfing Championships, which are due to begin at Salina on the Ecuador central coast on Saturday.

Laura is travelling with her father, but Isabella's parents were unable to accompany her on this trip.

Isabella's father Ross dropped his daughter at Brisbane airport for her 7am flight and then had been texting her while she was in Sydney.

"She texted me to say the flight from Sydney had been delayed. She was flying direct from Sydney to Chile," he said.

"I assume the flight went ahead as I haven't heard any more."

While his daughter was in limbo, he did some quick research on earthquakes in Chile which eased his nerves.

"The whole area is prone to earthquakes," he said. "I am always nervous when she travels, but she is with the Australian team."

Mr Nichols' wife Lizbeth was heading to her family home in Denmark with Isabella's twin sister while events were unfolding.


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