Magnitude 7.8 quake strikes Solomon Islands – tsunami warning eases

Pacific countries on tsunami alert following a 7.8 magnitude earthquake off Solomon Islands. Image: USGS
Pacific countries on tsunami alert following a 7.8 magnitude earthquake off Solomon Islands. Image: USGS

A tsunami warning has been issued for several Pacific countries – including Papua New Guinea, Nauru, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu – following an earthquake with magnitude 7.8 about 68km off the coast of Kirakira in the Solomon Islands early today.

The US Geological Survey (USGS) initially reported the quake at 4.18am local time as 8.0, but later downgraded it to 7.8.

“Hazardous tsunami waves from this earthquake are possible within the next three hours along some coasts of Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Nauru, New Caledonia, Tuvalu and Kosrae,” stated the warning issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre.

The centre called on government agencies responsible for dealing with emergency situations to “take action to inform and instruct any coastal populations at risk in accordance with their own evaluation”.

The epicentre of the quake was registered at a depth of 48.7km, according to USGS.

There were no immediate reports of damage to homes in the capital, Honiara.

Tsunami warnings with ETA just hours after the quake struck was issued by the USGS for Kirakira, Auki, Honiara and parts of the Central and Isabel Provinces, but has since passed.

No evacuation was planned for the national referral hospital located on the coast of Honiara, sources said.

Preliminary reports from Kirakira said that while the quake was perhaps the biggest felt in recent times, there was no damage to homes and no immediate reports of casualties.

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