Page last updated at 10:42 GMT, Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Solomons quake and tsunami 'leave 1,000 homeless'

Devastation left by the tsunami on the Solomon Islands
People are believed to have moved to higher ground to escape the tsunami

Landslides and a tsunami triggered by a quake in the South Pacific's Solomon Islands have left some 1,000 people homeless, say officials.

Aftershocks continued on Tuesday after Monday's quakes - the largest of which was magnitude 7.2.

This quake led to a tsunami with waves of eight feet (2.5m) in some areas.

It led to widespread panic, according to eyewitnesses, but officials said there had been no reports of serious injury or deaths.

About 200 houses were destroyed on remote Rendova island, some 190 miles (300km) from the capital Honiara, officials said.

Sparsely populated

Aerial photographs taken from police helicopters on Tuesday showed debris littering the coast, and scars from landslides inland.

Police commissioner Peter Marshall told the Associated Press news agency that the lack of casualties was probably because people moved to higher ground.

"The fact that it was daylight, the isolated nature of the wave and that the landslides were in a relatively sparsely populated area (also helped)," he said.

Dive shop owner Danny Kennedy said people seemed to have followed a local rule that "if there's anything more than 20 seconds of shaking or any sea water recedes, head for the hills".

The US Geological Survey said the two quakes - the second of which measured 6.5 - struck about 55 miles (90km) from the small island of Ghizo, near Rendova.

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

Rendova has a population of about 3,600 and the UN children's fund, Unicef, is rebuilding 19 schools there following the 2007 tsunami.

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