By Sandra Birungi
A tsunami warning was issued after an 8.0 magnitude earthquake hit the Solomon Islands causing damage to some houses in the Solomons.
In particular, the earthquake struck off the Santa Cruz islands and the epicenter was 211 miles (340km) east of Kira Kira. The US Geological Survey first put the epicentre at a very shallow depth of three miles (5km) but later revised this to a much greater depth of 17.8 miles (28.7km). According to local police, as a result of the earthquake, several villages were damaged although there is yet to be an official confirmation.
Occasionally, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre issued a tsunami warning for the Solomons, Vanuatu, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu, New Caledonia, Kosrae, Fiji, Kiribati, Wallis and Futuna. A tsunami watch was in effect for American Samoa, Australia, New Zealand and eastern Indonesia. Later on, the alerts were cancelled. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said a tsunami of 90cm (3 feet) was measured at Lata wharf in the Solomons.
In the Solomon’s capital of Honiara residents fled to higher ground after the alert was issued. “People are still standing on the hills outside of Honiara just looking out over the water, trying to observe if there is a wave coming in,” said George Herming, a spokesman for the prime minister.
The warning centre did not say how big the tsunami could be although it estimated the 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.