No fewer than five people would have died along with dozens of homes destroyed when a major earthquake of 8.0 magnitude hit the Solomon Islands on Wednesday.
A wave of dust rising just below one meter generated by the earthquake reached parts of the Solomons, New Caledonia and Vanuatu before a region-wide tsunami was lifted.
There was chaos in the streets of Suva as people tried to avoid the Tsunami. The Tsunami waves reached Japan which is many miles away. Japan’s Meteorological Agency reported a 40cm tsunami hitting Hachijo Island about 290km south of Tokyo, while 20cm 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 03h50 GMT, about two and a half hours after the powerful quake struck at 01h12 GMT near the Santa Cruz Islands in the Solomons.
Australian and US monitors said a tsunami wave measuring 91cm washed into the town of Lata, on the main Santa Cruz island of Ndende. The United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs said the wave appeared to have travelled 500m 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 reporters.
Solomons Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo’s office said four villages on the Santa Cruz Islands had been hit by the tsunami. Lilo’s spokesperson George Herming told reporters.
“Latest reports suggest that between 60 to 70 homes have been damaged by waves crashing into at least four villages on Santa Cruz Islands. 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.”