Earthquake tsunami kills at least five in Solomon Islands
- February 07, 20137:55AM
A quake-generated wave of just under one metre reached parts of the Solomons, and Vanuatu and New Caledonia also reported rising sea levels, before a region-wide tsunami alert was lifted.
Sirens were heard in Fiji, locals said.
“Chaos in the streets of Suva as everyone tries to avoid the tsunami!!” tweeted Ratu Nemani Tebana from the Fiji capital.
The waves reached as far away as Japan, which was hit by a huge tsunami in March 2011 that killed more than 19,000 people.
Tom Steinfort (@tomsteinfort) posted these images on Twitter: More images rolling in of traffic mayhem and people heading for higher ground in Fiji in wake of the tsunami warning pic.twitter.com/uj9jaCmF.
Japan’s Meteorological Agency reported a 40-centimetre tsunami hitting Hachijo Island about 290 kilometres south of Tokyo, while 20-centimetre waves reached the main islands of Kyushu and Shikoku and smaller waves were recorded on Honshu.The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre cancelled its regional alert for Pacific-island nations at 1450 AEDT, about two and a half hours after the powerful quake struck near the Santa Cruz Islands in the Solomons.
Australian and US monitors said a tsunami wave measuring 91 centimetres washed into the town of Lata, on the main Santa Cruz island of Ndende.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said the wave appeared to have travelled 500 metres inland, inundating Lata’s airstrip as well as surrounding villages, flattening many traditional houses.
“We can report five dead and three injured. One of the dead was a male child, three were elderly women and one an elderly man,” Chris Rogers, a nurse at Lata Hospital, told AFP.
A picture take in Luganville, Espiritu Santo in Vanuatu by reader Alasdair Ross. Picture: Alasdair Ross
Solomons Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo’s office said four villages on the Santa Cruz Islands had been hit by the tsunami.
“Latest reports suggest that between 60 to 70 homes have been damaged by waves crashing into at least four villages on Santa Cruz Islands,” Lilo’s spokesman George Herming told AFP.
“At this stage, authorities are still trying to establish the exact number and extent of damage. Communication to (the) Santa Cruz Islands is difficult due to the remoteness of the islands.”
Solomon Islands Red Cross secretary general Joanne Zoleveke said she had been told at least three villages were hit, with houses washed away.
“In the Solomon Islands when we talk about villages there can be anything from 10 to 30 houses,” she said.
This picture of school children seeking higher ground in the Solomon Islands has been posted on Twitter: “School kids moved to higher ground after SI tsunami warning,” said Bec McNair. http://twitter.yfrog.com/h6588nyj Picture: Twitter/@benmcnair
With Lata’s airstrip out of commission, officials were hoping to fly over the area early on Thursday to assess the damage better.
The US Geological Survey said the quake struck the Santa Cruz Islands, which have been rocked by a series of strong tremors over the past week, at a depth of 28.7 kilometres.
Dozens of aftershocks continued through the day, including one at 6.6-magnitude.
“Sea level readings indicate a tsunami was generated,” the Hawaii-based Pacific warning centre said after the 8.0 quake, before lifting its tsunami alert for several island nations.
Lata Hospital director of nursing Augustine Bilve said some patients were evacuated to higher ground to prepare for any injured from the villages along the coast.
The 8.0 quake struck just off the Solomon islands. Map: USGS
No Australian defence personnel serving in the Solomon Islands have been hurt in the powerful earthquake that struck the region.
Australia has 100 soldiers participating in the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI), operating from a base in a beachfront resort outside Honiara.
A defence spokesman said personnel serving on Operation Anode, in support of RAMSI, had not been affected by the earthquake and none of their buildings had been damaged.
“Deployed personnel have been encouraged to keep their families informed and reassured of their welfare. Facilities used by the ADF in Solomon Islands have not been damaged,” he said.
Settlements did not appear to be seriously damaged in the quake, he said, but added: “We were told that after the shaking, waves came to the villages.”
In 2007 a tsunami following an 8.0-magnitude earthquake killed at least 52 people in the Solomons and left thousands homeless. The quake lifted an entire island and pushed out its shoreline by dozens of metres.
The Solomons are part of the Ring of Fire, a zone of tectonic activity around the Pacific that is subject to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
In December 2004, a 9.3-magnitude quake off Indonesia triggered a catastrophic tsunami that killed 226,000 people around the Indian Ocean.
Here is a list of the greatest earthquakes since the beginning of the 20th century, according to the moment magnitude scale.
- May 22, 1960: A 9.5-magnitude earthquake, the biggest ever recorded, kills 5,700 people in Chile while the tsunami it triggers leaves 130 dead in Japan and 61 in Hawaii.
- March 27, 1964: An earthquake measuring 9.2 in southern Alaska followed by a tsunami kills more than 100 people.
- December 26, 2004: A 9.1-magnitude undersea quake off Sumatra island causes a tsunami that kills 220,000 people in countries around the Indian Ocean, including 168,000 in Indonesia.
- March 11, 2011: A 9.0 magnitude quake triggers a devastating tsunami off northeast Japan, leaving some 19,000 people dead or missing and crippling the Fukushima nuclear power plant in the world’s worst atomic disaster in 25 years.
- November 4, 1952: More than 2,300 people are killed when a 9.0-magnitude quake occurs on Siberia’s Kamchatka peninsula, causing a tsunami felt as far as Chile and Peru.
- February 27, 2010: A huge 8.8-magnitude earthquake rocks Chile, killing at least 450 people and triggering tsunami warnings across the Pacific.
- January 31, 1906: An earthquake measuring 8.8 off the coasts of Colombia and Ecuador causes a tsunami that kills about 1,000 people.
- February 4, 1965: An 8.7-magnitude earthquake shakes the Aleutian Islands in the northern Pacific Ocean, causing damage but no deaths.
- March 28, 2005: An 8.6-magnitude quake on Indonesia’s Nias island off Sumatra leaves at least 900 dead.
- March 9, 1957: An earthquake measuring 8.6 hits the Andreanof Islands in Alaska, generating a tsunami reaching as far as Hawaii, causing damage but no casualties.