Strong earthquake hits Solomon Islands

A strong earthquake with a magnitude of 6,9 hit the Solomon Islands on Sunday and could potentially generate local tsunami waves, but a Pacific-wide tsunami was not expected, seismologists said.

The undersea earthquake struck just after 1am GMT at a depth of 35km, with an aftershock of 4,8 about 20 minutes later, the United States Geological Survey said.

They were centred off the remote Santa Cruz islands, about 675km east of Honiara.

Solomons officials said there were no immediate indications of injury or damage, but daytime communications with the remote, sparsely populated area were fragile.

“The only contact is by high-frequency radio and at this time of day the radio signal drops,” the director of the National Disaster Management Office, Loti Yates, said.

Yates said a more clear picture of the quake’s effects would emerge at night when receptions improved.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Hawaii said in a statement that a destructive Pacific-wide tsunami was not expected, but added there was an increased potential for tsunami waves near the epicentre.

An eight-magnitude earthquake in the western Solomons in April triggered a tsunami that killed more than 50 people and displaced thousands.—Sapa-AFP

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