Solomon Islands shaken by huge earthquake, tsunami alert eased

The magnitude 7.0 quake was followed by a second large tremor, cutting power in the capital and disrupting radio broadcasts.

Map of the Solomon Islands showing the location of the earthquake

A large earthquake has been reported near the Solomon Islands in the Pacific, shaking buildings and knocking out power in the capital, Honiara.

A tsunami warning was issued on Tuesday, and the prime minister’s office urged people to move to higher ground after the first quake.

A second quake was recorded nearby about 30 minutes later.

fallen masonry on the crumpled bonnet of parked car with its windscreen smashed
The earthquake caused violent shaking in Honiara with cars damaged by falling masonry [Courtesy of Thelma Koala]

The tremor cut power to some areas of the capital and disrupted radio transmissions by the state broadcaster, but the government said there was no major damage to buildings in the capital.

“This was a big one,” Joy Nisha, a receptionist with the Heritage Park Hotel in Honiara, told the AFP news agency.

“Some of the things in the hotel fell. Everyone seems OK, but panicky.”

The United States Geological Survey said the magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck the Malango region, about 55km (34 miles) west of the capital, at a depth of 15km (9 miles).

It revised the size of the first tremor from an earlier magnitude of 7.3.

Solomon Island residents shared photos with Al Jazeera showing some damage to buildings and cars smashed by falling masonry.

Michael Salini, a businessman and political commentator on Tulagi Island, which lies across from Honiara, told Al Jazeera that people were “very worried” and “everyone just ran, leaving everything behind”.

Some coastal regions of Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu were also put on alert for a tsunami of up to 30 centimetres (12 inches).

The Solomon Islands Meteorological Service later said there was no tsunami threat to the country, but warned about unusual sea currents in coastal areas.

“People are also advised to be vigilant as aftershocks are expected to continue,” an employee said on social media.

According to UN data, about 20,000 people live within 50 kilometres of the epicentre.

The Solomons, a chain of islands in the southern Pacific, is home to about 800,000 people.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies