Solomons quake triggers tsunami, destroys villages

Solomons quake triggers tsunami, destroys villages

Solomons quake triggers tsunami, destroys villages

Updated 6 February 2013, 15:26 AEST

Tsunami warnings for the South Pacific are cancelled hours after a large earthquake struck off the Solomon Islands, generating a tsunami and destroying three remote villages.

A magnitude 8.0 earthquake off Solomon Islands has generated a tsunami and destroyed three remote villages on the Santa Cruz islands.

Tsunami warnings were issued for areas in the South Pacific following the quake, but they have now been cancelled.

People moved to higher ground in coastal areas of affected regions.

A tsunami of around 90 centimetres was recorded in Lata, in the Solomons, while smaller waves centimetres hit in Vanuatu and New Caledonia.

Look back at how this afternoon's events unfolded. All times AEDT.

 

 

2.55pm: The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre has cancelled its warning and watch alerts for all areas.

"No tsunami threat exists for other coastal areas although some may experience small sea level changes," the centre said.

2:49pm: The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre says an 11 centimetre, non-destructive tsunami wave has hit Vanuatu.

It says a wave will also hit PNG, but will be non-destructive.

Meanwhile a tsunami of around 50 centimetres has reportedly hit New Caledonia.

 

2:45pm: The Australian High Commission in the Solomons capital Honiara has been evacuated.

A spokeswoman says staff have moved to the High Commissioner’s residence, which is on higher ground, as a precaution.

 

2:38pm: The USGS has revised the depth of the quake to 28.7 kilometres, up from the shallow 5.8 kilometres earlier reported.

 

2:30pm: Brian Shiro from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre says the Solomons is likely to be the worst affected region in the Pacific.

"We've seen the tsunami at a couple of places in the Solomon Islands region. The largest reading is about one metre.

"We're still monitoring the area to see if the tsunami is going to be a threat anywhere else but it appears it's going to be constrained pretty much to that area.

"We've not expanded the warning watch zones, in fact we've restricted them a little bit."

 

2:23pm: The tsunami warning has caused chaos across Solomon Islands, with people trying to move to higher ground, causing major traffic jams in the capital Honiara.

Boats and ships are also moving to open water to avoid any potential waves.

2:16pm: The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre has corrected its recent update. Australia is NOT in the warning area.

It says a tsunami watch is still in place for Australia, though the Bureau of Meteorology says Australia is not at risk.

 

2:09pm: An eight-centimetre tsunami has hit in the Solomons capital.

 

@an_news PTWC says 8cm tsunami wave has hit Solomons' capital, Honiara, with no damage reported

 

 

2:06pm: Australia is now in the tsunami warning area, according to the latest update from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre.

The Bureau of Meteorology says Australia is not at risk.

2:05pm: Freeda Oyunysi from Solomon Islands Visitor Centre has spoken to ABC News 24, confirming the 90cm sea level rise in the Santa Cruz Islands.

But she says it's not clear if its a tsunami wave or if the sea is just rising.

In Lata, the provincial capital of the worst-hit area, there are no reports of damage so far.

The fate of a number of coastal villages remains unclear.

Freeda Oyunysi from the Solomon Islands Visitor Centre spoke to ABC News 24 Video: Freeda Oyunysi from the Solomon Islands Visitor Centre spoke to ABC News 24 (ABC News)

 

2:04pm: Augustine Bilve, the director of nursing at Lata Hospital, has told the AFP news agency patients at the hospital are being evacuated to prepare for any injured from the villages along the coast.

"We were told that after the shaking, waves came to the villages.

"So far, we are waiting in Lata and are evacuating patients in case there are any casualties."

 

2:00pm: Solomon Islands police in the small town of Kira Kira, on San Chrostobal island, have told Reuters they felt the quake.

But local police officer Samuel Tora said there have been no reports of any damage from the quake or a tsunami.

"We felt the shock. We have warned people to get to higher ground."

 

1:55pm: @simskepui, a resident of Honiara in the Solomons, has tweeted a photo of the area following the alert.

"Here in Honiara no signs of anything so far. Residents have been asked to move to hills."

 

1:51pm: New Zealand's Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management has issued a potential threat advisory for North Cape, Auckland West, East Cape, Gisborne, Auckland East, New Plymouth, Wellington.

People in coastal areas are urged to note that a tsunami is possible.

1:38pm: The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre says there is no tsunami threat to Hawaii.

1:34pm: Andrew Tupper of the Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre says at this stage there is no tsunami warning for Australia.

He told ABC News 24 that Australian scientists assessed the quake at magnitude 7.9.

"At this stage we do not have a tsunami warning for Australia. We've got no threat... at this stage not an issue."

No tsunami warning for Australia Video: No tsunami warning for Australia (ABC News)

 

1:32pm: The Australia Network reports that in Lata in the Solomons, police say three villages have been wiped out.

@an_news Santa Cruz authorities say not known if any lives lost from tsunami, but police heading to affected areas to assist and assess

 

1:30pm: Tourism operators are reporting damage in the Santa Cruz islands, near the quake epicentre.

1.27pm: The USGS says at least five aftershocks, ranging from magnitude 5.2 to 6.6, have struck since the initial magnitude 8 quake.

1:24pm: Nathan Becker from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre is urging people Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands to move to higher ground.

Audio: Nathan Becker talks to Radio Australia (ABC News)

 

"The areas that are closest to the earthquake would be the Santa Cruz Islands, but above those the Solomons and Vanuatu are the next closest island groups.

"People in those areas should definitely be clearing the beaches and moving to higher ground."

 

1:22pm: Some more information is coming out of the Solomons capital Honiara, where villages have reportedly been destroyed.

Augustine Bilve, the director of nursing at Lata Hospital on the main Santa Cruz island of Ndende, has told the AFP news agency locals have reported damage:

"The information we are getting is that some villages west and south of Lata along the coast have been destroyed, although we cannot confirm this yet."

 

1:16pm: The tsunami warning centre says a 90cm tsunami is now hitting Solomon Islands.

France has issued a tsunami warning for New Caledonia, saying the wave may hit in 45 minutes' time.

 

1:15pm: Here's what we know so far:

 

The United States Geological Survey said the quake was a shallow 5.8 kilometres deep and the epicentre was 347km east of Kira Kira.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre (PTWC) confirmed a tsunami had been generated and said it could be destructive near the epicentre.

A local hospital director quoted by the AFP news agency said some villages in Solomon Islands had been destroyed.

Map: Quake off Solomon Islands

 

The centre did not say how big the tsunami was, but it gave arrival times from a few minutes to several hours to island nations around the South Pacific.

"When no major waves are observed for two hours after the estimated time of arrival or damaging waves have not occurred for at least two hours then local authorities can assume the threat is passed," the Hawaii-based centre said.

A PTWC tsunami warning is current for Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu, New Caledonia, Kosrae, Fiji, Kiribati, and Wallis and Futuna.

Read the full tsunami warning here.

A tsunami watch is in effect for other areas, including Australia, Indonesia, New Zealand and Samoa.

However, a Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre advisory at 12:30pm (AEDT) said it was not issuing any watch or threat warning for Australia.

An earthquake measuring 6.3 magnitude struck south-east of the Solomon Islands earlier today.

ABC/Reuters