HONIARA- At least five people have been killed in the Solomon Islands after an undersea earthquake triggered a tsunami at 12:12pm local time Wednesday.
The 8.0 earthquake struck near the Santa Cruz island and the worst damage was reported on the west coast, with waves measuring 1.5-meter high. A tsunami measuring 0.9m (3ft) then hit Lata on eastern Santa Cruz island, swamping the island's airport according to the BBC.
Solomon Islands Police Commissioner John Lansley said local police patrols reported that several people were presumed dead, though the reports were still being verified says the AP. "Sadly, we believe some people have lost their lives," he said. "At the moment we potentially know of four, but there may of course be more."
"Latest reports suggest that between 60 to 70 homes have been damaged by waves crashing into at least four villages on Santa Cruz Islands," Solomons Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo's spokesman George Herming told AFP.
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Tsunami warnings were issued for the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu, New Caledonia, Kosrae, Fiji, Kiribati, and Wallis and Futuna islands, but were lifted two hours later according to news.com.au.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Jonathan Bathgate, senior seismologist at Geoscience Australia, spoke about the seismic area around the Pacific “ring of fire” and said that: “For the last week or so, it’s been very active,” Mr Bathgate said. “I’d expect it to (remain active) for the next week or so.” Geoscience picked up seven quakes of at least a magnitude-6 reading since January 30.
The scale of the major quake – registered as having a 7.9 magnitude by Geoscience – was significant. “You get only one or two of these per year,” he said.