Solomons quake triggers tsunami, destroys villages
A magnitude 8.0 earthquake off Solomon Islands has generated a tsunami and wiped out at least three villages.
A tsunami warning has been issued for the South Pacific, although the Bureau of Meteorology says Australia is not at risk.
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1:51pm: New Zealand’s Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management has issued a potential threat advisory for North Cape, Auckland West, East Cape, Gisborne, Auckland East, New Plymouth, Wellington.
People in coastal areas are urged to note that a tsunami is possible.
1:38pm: The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre says there is no tsunami threat to Hawaii.
1:34pm: Andrew Tupper of the Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre says at this stage there is no tsunami warning for Australia.
He told ABC News 24 that Australian scientists assessed the quake at 7.9 magnitude.
“At this stage we do not have a tsunami warning for Australia. We’ve got no threat… at this stage not an issue.”
1:32pm: The Australia Network reports that in Lata in the Solomons, police say three villages have been wiped out.
1:30pm: Tourism operators are reporting damage in the Santa Cruz islands, near the quake epicentre.
1.27pm: The USGS says at least five aftershocks, ranging from 5.2 to 6.6 magnitude, have struck since the initial 8.0-magnitude quake.
1:24pm: Nathan Becker from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre is urging people Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands to move to higher ground.
“The areas that are closest to the earthquake would be the Santa Cruz Islands, but above those the Solomons and Vanuatu are the next closest island groups.
“People in those areas should definitely be clearing the beaches and moving to higher ground.”
1:22pm: Some more information is coming out of the Solomons capital Honiara, where villages have reportedly been destroyed.
The director at Lata Hospital on the main Santa Cruz island of Ndende has told the AFP news agency locals have reported damage:
“The information we are getting is that some villages west and south of Lata along the coast have been destroyed, although we cannot confirm this yet.”
1:16pm: The tsunami warning centre says a 90cm tsunami is now hitting Solomon Islands.
France has issued a tsunami warning for New Caledonia, saying the wave may hit in 45 minutes’ time.
1:15pm: Here’s what we know so far:
The United States Geological Survey said the quake was a shallow 5.8 kilometres deep and the epicentre was 347km east of Kira Kira.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre (PTWC) confirmed a tsunami had been generated and said it could be destructive near the epicentre.
A local hospital director quoted by the AFP news agency said some villages in Solomon Islands had been destroyed.
The centre did not say how big the tsunami was, but it gave arrival times from a few minutes to several hours to island nations around the South Pacific.
“When no major waves are observed for two hours after the estimated time of arrival or damaging waves have not occurred for at least two hours then local authorities can assume the threat is passed,” the Hawaii-based centre said.
A PTWC tsunami warning is current for Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu, New Caledonia, Kosrae, Fiji, Kiribati, and Wallis and Futuna.
A tsunami watch is in effect for other areas, including Australia, Indonesia, New Zealand and Samoa.
However, a Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre advisory at 12:30pm (AEDT) said it was not issuing any watch or threat warning for Australia.
An earthquake measuring 6.3 magnitude struck south-east of the Solomon Islands earlier today.