Magnitude 8 quake hits off Solomon Islands

KIRSTY JOHNSTON, NICOLE PRYOR
Last updated 16:11 06/02/2013

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LATEST: Taranaki Civil Defence has issued a tsunami warning for Taranaki after a magnitude 8.0 earthquake struck east of the Solomon Islands this afternoon.

The quake was a shallow 5.8km deep and the epicentre was 347km east of Kira Kira in the Solomon Islands.

The tsunami is expected to arrive on the Taranaki coastline at around 7.30pm,  coinciding with full tide.

Taranaki Civil Defence advises everyone in and on the sea to be clear of the water by 6.30pm. 

The Taranaki Emergency Management Office has been activated is awaiting further advice from the Ministry

The tsunami warning will remain in effect until a cancellation message is issued by the Ministry of Civil Defence Emergency Management. 

In the Solomons, a hospital director said villages had been destroyed by the quake, the AFP reported. However, the full extent of the damage was unknown.

Walter Nalangu from the Solomon Islands Broadcoastng Corporation said information was still coming through, however it was believed there had been a wave generated and it was hitting the east of the islands.

Nalungu said the earthquake had been felt by those on the islands when it hit.

The Solomon Islands' National Disaster Management office advised those living in low-lying areas, especially Makira and Malaita, to move to higher ground.

The media liaison officer for the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) Johnson Honimae, in Honiara, said the earthquake had happened during most people's lunch hour. The city had put on buses to take residents to higher ground.

"I didn't feel the earthquake. But I got a text from my colleague about the tsunami warning. Our office is right on the waterfront so I took a bus up to my house, which is higher," Honimae said.

"People have been rushing around, boarding buses or whatever means of transport that they can take to somewhere safe. We're lucky because there is a hill not far from the city so most people can go there."

There was still very limited information about the tsunami threat, Honimae said.

A manager at the Novotel Hotel in Nadi said students in Fiji were sent home from school at the advice of the Fijian Education Ministry after the threat was announced. 

The manager said guests would remain in the hotel, which is located near the airport, until further information was released. 

"We are in the safest location," he said. "At this point and time we don't want to create panic."

COUNTRIES ON WATCH/WARNING

A tsunami warning is in effect for the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu, New Caledonia, Kosrae, Fiji, Kiribati, Wallis and Futuna.

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A "watch" was in effect for the Marshall Islands, Howland and Baker, Pohnpei, Tokelau, Samoa, Kermadec Islands, New Zealand, American Samoa, Samoa, Tonga, Australia, Niue, Cook Islands, Indonisia, Wake Island, Chuuk, Jarvis Island, Guam, Northern Marianas, Palmyra Island, Yap, Johnston Isalnd, Minamitorishima and Belau.

Australia was not at risk from a tsunami, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology said.

- Taranaki Daily News

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