Report – By the PMC news desk and agencies
At least nine people are dead and three others injured following an earthquake and tsunami that struck yesterday afternoon, say police. But there are fears the death toll could rise.
Radio NZ International reported the 8.0 magnitude undersea earthquake had sparked a tsunami warning for several Pacific island nations but appeared to have had the biggest impact around the Santa Cruz region in Solomon Islands.
The acting Permanent Secretary Responsible for National Disaster, Channel Iroi, confirmed the deaths were from Nela, Luova, Bimbir,Venga and Malo villages on Santa Cruz.
He told the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation (SIBC) that a number of people were also reported missing in affected villages.
Meanwhile, disaster officials expect the focus of their response to the tsunami would primarily be in the Temotu province in the southern part of the country.
Police Commander John Lansley said because the area was quite isolated it could take a couple of days before they fully understand the extent of the damage.
“It is a significant distance from where the resources are kept, we do have preparatory resources already on the islands because this type of situation has been predicted as a possibility in the past but the major response will take some time.”
Inspecting affected regions
John Lansley said members of the Regional Assistance Mission RAMSI were tying to assess affected regions by air.
Solomon Islands police spokesman Godfrey Abia told Radio Australia it was unclear at this stage how many people had been affected.
“Some of the villages close to the coastal area have been totally wiped out by the waves and it kind of travelled further inland, some 500 metres,” he said.
“Those communities and those places are very remote. We cannot really confirm how many people live in any of those villages.”
Abia said temporary accommodation was being provided for some of those who needed it.
“Our officers down there have already set up some temporary shelter and campsites further up into the jungle and on higher ground. They are organising and distributing food and water for the people at the moment.”
The quake struck just after midday Honiara local time near the Santa Cruz islands, about 300 kilometres east of the Solomons, the Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said.
A 90-centimetre tsunami hit Lata in remote Temotu province, said the centre, which later cancelled warnings for other South Pacific islands, as well as for Australia and New Zealand.
An 11-centimetre wave hit Vanuatu, while a tsunami of around 50 centimetres reportedly hit New Caledonia. A wave was also expected to hit Papua New Guinea and Japan, but it would not be destructive.
The Australian Government’s detention centre on Manus Island was evacuated, with staff and asylum seekers moved to higher ground as a precaution.
The US Geological Survey recorded more than 20 quakes near the Santa Cruz Islands yesterday; some registering 6.6 and 6.4.
Commissioner Lansley said the worst hit area was around Lata.
“We understand a part of the airstrip has been damaged, which is going to cause some issues in respect to getting relief aid out there, but that is being assessed at this moment,” he said.
Source: Pacific Media Watch 8192