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Tsunami off Solomon Islands damages homes, kills 5

Last Updated: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 - 12:19

Zeenews Bureau

Hawaii: A powerful earthquake off the Solomon Islands generated a tsunami of up to 1.5 meters (about 5 feet) that damaged dozens of homes and likely killed several people in the South Pacific island chain on Wednesday.

The strong 8.0 earthquake was followed by many aftershocks and two 1.5-meter (4 foot, 11-inch) waves that hit the western side of Santa Cruz Island prompting the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center to issue a tsunami warning for many countries including Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and Fiji, but it was cancelled later.

The Tsunami watch issued for countries like New Zealand, Australia and eastern Indonesia was also withdrawn later on.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake struck 81 kilometers (50 miles) west of Lata, at a depth of 5.8 kilometers (3.6 miles).

Solomon Islands Police Commissioner John Lansley said local police patrols had reported that several people were presumed dead, though the reports were still being verified.

The CNN reported that at least five deaths were confirmed in Solomon Islands, said local hospital officials.

Four villages on Santa Cruz were impacted by the waves, with two facing severe damage, Lansley said. Other areas of the Solomons did not appear to have been seriously affected.

The tsunami formed after an 8.0-magnitude earthquake struck near Lata on Santa Cruz in Temotu province, the easternmost province of the Solomons, about a 3-hour flight from the capital, Honiara. The region has a population of around 30,000 people.

The Solomons comprise more than 200 islands with a population of about 552,000 people. They lie on the "Ring of Fire" — an arc of earthquake and volcanic zones that stretches around the Pacific Rim and where about 90 percent of the world`s quakes occur.

More than 50 people were killed and thousands lost their homes in April 2007 when a magnitude 8.1 quake hit the western Solomon Islands, sending waves crashing into coastal villages.

With Agency Inputs

First Published: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 - 09:13
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