Page last updated at 05:44 GMT, Monday, 4 January 2010

Quakes trigger tsunami alert in Solomon Islands


Two earthquakes have been recorded near the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific, one of 7.2 magnitude.

The US Geological Survey said the two quakes - the second of which measured 6.5 - struck about 90km (56 miles) from the small island of Gizo.

There are no reports of casualties but the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said a minor local tsunami was generated.

It said the quakes were likely to cause coastal destruction but posed no wider threat.

The larger quake was measured at a depth of about 30km (19 miles), and was followed several hours later by quakes of magnitude 5.3 and 5.2.


On the tiny island of Rendova, near Gizo, several houses collapsed but there were no other reports of damage, Julian Makaa of the National Disaster Management Office told AFP.

"The reports say villages and houses have been damaged by landslides rather than tsunamis, but we do not have any confirmation of deaths or injuries," a spokesman for the National Disaster Management Office told Reuters from the Solomon Islands capital Honiara.

"The earthquake caused a small wave, and a few people suffered minor injuries as they ran away from the shore in panic," he said.

"No tsunami threat exists for other coastal areas in the Pacific although some other areas may experience small, non-destructive, sea-level changes lasting up to several hours," the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said.

Gizo, on Ghizo island, is the second largest town in the Solomon Islands archipelago with a population of around 6,000.

Residents in Honiara, about 360km away on the island of Guadalcanal, said they felt shakes but there was no damage.

An 8.0 magnitude earthquake in the same area nearly three years ago killed more than 50 people, destroyed hundreds of homes and displaced thousands.

On 29 September last year, a devastating tsunami swept along coasts in the Pacific islands of Samoa and Tonga, killing 186 people and wiping out entire villages.

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