Manila lifts tsunami warning issued after earthquake in South Pacific

February 07, 2013 - 6:10:08 am

Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology Director Renato Solidum views computers showing earthquake monitoring data in Quezon City, east of Manila, yesterday

MANILA: The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) yesterday afternoon lifted the Level 1 tsunami alert it issued following an 8.0-magnitude earthquake in the South Pacific.

“The tsunami has passed... The tsunami threat has passed,” Phivolcs chief Renato Solidum said in Filipino during a press conference. He said that the tsunami alert was lifted at 12.15pm.

The Phivolcs isxued the tsunami alert over the country’s eastern seaboard, covering the provinces of Batanes, Cagayan, Ilocos Norte, Isabela, Quezon, Aurora, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Albay, Catanduanes, Sorsogon, Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Davao Oriental and Davao del Sur.

The agency had said that residents living along coastal areas in the said provinces should prepare to evacuate.

Solidum said that with the tsunami alert lifted, the residents have been advised that they can already relax.

The quake struck at past 9am near Lata in Temotu province, the easternmost province of the Solomons and about a 3-hour flight from the capital, Honiara.

Tsunami warnings issued in areas around the South Pacific have also been lifted as of noon.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said a tsunami of .9 metres was measured in Lata wharf, in the Solomon Islands.

The statement said the waves could be destructive near the epicentre and threaten more distant coasts.

Reports said that the tsunami damaged several houses.

In Honiara, the warning prompted residents to flee for higher ground.

“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. So far, he had received no reports that a wave had been observed in Honiara.

Atenia Tahu, who works for the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corp in Honiara, said most people were remaining calm.

“People around the coast and in the capital are ringing in and trying to get information from us and the National Disaster Office and are slowly moving up to higher ground,” Tahu said. “But panic? No, no, no, people are not panicking.”

The tsunami warning also covered Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu, New Caledonia, Kosrae, Fiji, Kiribati, Wallis and Futuna. A tsunami watch is in effect for American Samoa, Australia, New Zealand and eastern Indonesia.

An official at the disaster management office in neighbouring Vanuatu said there were no reports of damage or injuries there.

More than 50 people were killed and thousands lost their homes in April 2007 when a magnitude 8.1 quake hit the western Solomon Islands, sending waves crashing into coastal villages.

The Solomons comprise more than 200 islands with a population of about 552,000 people. They lie on the “Ring of Fire” — an arc of earthquake and volcanic zones that stretches around the Pacific Rim and where about 90 percent of the world’s quakes occur.

The Philippine Star