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Tsunami hits Solomons after 8.0 quake

Published: Wednesday February 6, 2013 | 9:42 am Comments 0

(AP) — A powerful earthquake off the Solomon Islands on Wednesday generated a tsunami of up to 1.5 meters (About 5 feet) that damaged dozens of homes and left several people missing and presumed dead in the South Pacific island chain.

Authorities canceled tsunami warnings on more distant coasts.

Solomons officials reported two 1.5-meter or 4 foot, 11-inch waves hit the western side of Santa Cruz Island, damaging between 70 and 80 homes and properties.

Spokesman for the prime minister, George Herming, said many villagers headed to higher ground as a precaution.

Solomon Islands Police Commissioner John Lansley said local police patrols reported that about several people were presumed dead, though reports were still being verified.

“One of the people presumed dead was fishing in a dugout canoe when the first wave hit, sweeping him out to sea,” Herming said.

Officials were searching for his body. Another woman was believed to have drowned when the water rushed into her village.

Lansley said four villages on Santa Cruz were hit by the waves, with two facing severe damage. Other areas of the Solomons did not appear to have been seriously affected.

Disaster officials were struggling to reach the remote area after the tsunami flooded the airstrip at the nearest airport and left it littered with debris.

The tsunami formed after a magnitude-8.0 earthquake struck near the town of Lata, on Santa Cruz in Temotu, the easternmost province in the Solomons, about a 3-hour flight from the capital, Honiara.

Temotu has a population of around 30,000.

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