HONIARA: A major 8.0 magnitude earthquake jolted the Solomon Islands yesterday with small tsunami waves buffeting Pacific coasts, leaving at least five people dead and dozens of homes damaged or destroyed.
A quake-generated wave of just under one metre (three feet) reached parts of the Solomons, and Vanuatu and New Caledonia also reported rising sea levels, before a region-wide tsunami alert was lifted.
Sirens were heard in Fiji, locals said. “Chaos in the streets of Suva as everyone tries to avoid the tsunami!!” tweeted Ratu Nemani Tebana from the Fiji capital.
The waves reached as far away as Japan, which was hit by a huge tsunami in March 2011 that killed more than 19,000 people.
Japan’s Meteorological Agency reported a 40-centimetre tsunami hitting Hachijo Island about 290 km south of Tokyo, while 20-centimetre waves reached the main islands of Kyushu and Shikoku and smaller waves were recorded on Honshu.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center cancelled its regional alert for Pacific-island nations at 0350 GMT, about two and a half hours after the powerful quake struck at 0112 GMT near the Santa Cruz Islands in the Solomons.
Australian and US monitors said a tsunami wave measuring 91 centimetres washed into the town of Lata, on the main Santa Cruz island of Ndende.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said the wave appeared to have travelled 500 metres inland.