A brief tsunami alert was issued for a number of islands in the South Pacific after a magnitude 8.0 earthquake hit the Solomon Islands and triggered a tsunami, which reportedly hit some eastern islands in the same region.
According to reports, the earthquake and the resulting tidal gush damaged houses and other properties in the Solomons. However, no injuries or casualties have been reported. Evacuation warnings have been issued for residents of several coastal areas, including New Caledonia, Loyalty Islands.
"Sea level readings indicate a tsunami was generated. It may have been destructive along coasts near the earthquake epicenter and could also be a threat to more distant coasts. Authorities should take appropriate action in response to this possibility," the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said in a bulletin, according to CNN.
According to the US Geological Survey, the earthquake hit the Santa Cruz Islands, located inside the Solomons territory. The epicenter was 340 kilometers in the east of Kira Kira at very low depth of 5 kilometers. However, the depth was later revised to 28.7 kilometers.
Robert Iroga, press secretary to the Solomons prime minister, told the BBC that the tsunami wave 500m inland and that three villages were damaged. Iroga also added that houses were destroyed and officials were not yet in a position to determine the extent of damages because they were still going to the mountains and hills to check the situation.
A tsunami warning was also issued for Australia, American Samoa, New Zealand and eastern Indonesia. Bu the warnings were later called off.
The tsunami warning prompted panic in the Solomons’ capital Honiara, where residents rushed for higher ground.
"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," said the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre, according to the Guardian.
The Solomons has been experiencing a cycle of smaller earthquakes in recent time. In 2007, an 8.1 magnitude quake hit the Solomons and triggered a tsunami that killed around 52 people and left thousands homeless.