April 13, 2014 in Nation/World

Solomon Islands shaken by magnitude-7.6 earthquake

Nick Perry Associated Press
 

WELLINGTON, New Zealand – A powerful magnitude-7.6 earthquake triggered large waves in the Solomon Islands today, and authorities were trying to determine if there was any serious damage or injuries.

Government spokesman George Herming said people throughout the Pacific island chain awoke to the strong quake at 7:14 a.m. He said people on Makira and nearby islands southeast of the capital, Honiara, reported seeing three large waves after the quake.

He said there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center today canceled a tsunami warning after earlier issuing an alert for some Pacific islands. The center reported that sea level readings indicated a small tsunami was generated that may have caused some destruction near the epicenter.

The U.S. Geological Survey reported the epicenter was 200 miles southeast of Honiara, at a depth of 18 miles.

The Solomon Islands, home to 600,000 people, was already reeling from devastating flash floods that struck Honiara and other areas April 3. The floods have killed 23 people and left 9,000 more homeless. Herming said up to 30 people remain missing.

“It has really been a tough time,” he said.

Andrew Catford, the Solomon Islands country director for World Vision, said the aid group’s staff in the Kirakira office in Makira province reported that there was no tsunami, but strong currents and heavy waves pounding the reefs. He said the group’s staff evacuated to higher ground as a precaution.

“We felt this one strongly in Honiara. It was close to 30 seconds long,” he said.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center initially issued a warning for the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea. U.S. officials said there was no threat of a tsunami to the coasts of California, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii or Alaska.

The Solomon Islands lie on the “Ring of Fire,” an arc of earthquake and volcanic activity that stretches around the Pacific Rim.

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