[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific
South Pacific quake sparks tsunami
Solomon Islands hit as region-wide warning is issued after the 8.1-magnitude jolt.
Last Modified: 02 Apr 2007 02:58 GMT
Japan's geological agency put the
magnitude of the quake at 8.1 [AFP]
A massive earthquake has struck off the Solomon Islands, causing a tsunami to crash into the country's west coast and prompting disaster warnings for regional contries, including Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Australia.
 
At least four people were reported missing on Monday.
Police in the western town of Gizo reported a wave several metres high crashing ashore shortly before communication lines with the region were cut, Sergeant Godfrey Abiah of the Solomon Islands police, said.
There were unconfirmed reports that two villages in the country's far west were covered with water, Julian McLeod of the Solomon Islands National Disaster Management Office said.
 
Completely inundated
 
"Two villages were reported to have been completely inundated," McLeod told Australian Broadcasting Corp radio.
 
"We have received reports of four people missing." 
 
Many geological agencies, including those in Australia and Japan, put the magnitude of the quake at 8.1 but the US Geological Survey's initial estimate was 7.6.
 
The initial tremor appeared to have immediately been followed by a second one of similar magnitude, Japan's meteorological agency's website said.
 
The US centre said the quake – which reportedly caused buildings to shake as far away as Japan - struck about 10km beneath the sea floor about 350km northwest of the Solomons capital of Honiara at 7:39am on Monday (2039 GMT on Sunday).
 
The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said an earthquake of that strength could cause a destructive tsunami and issued a warning for the Solomon Islands and neighbouring Papua New Guinea.
 
It ordered a lower-level "tsunami watch" for other places, including most South Pacific countries.
 
The centre said it was monitoring the situation and that Hawaii's status could be elevated to warning or watch.
 
Abiah said police in Gizo had been warning residents to move to higher ground away from the coast when the tsunami hit, but communication links were lost soon afterwards.
 
"We have lost radio contact with the two police stations down there and we're not getting any clear picture from down there," he said.
 
Australia issued a tsunami alert for the far north coast of Queensland state, including the tourist city of Cooktown and the Willis and Barrier Reef islands.
 
Residents were warned to get out of the water and stay away from low-lying areas.
Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Featured on Al Jazeera
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Featured
Pro-Russia leaders' election in Ukraine's east shows bloody conflict is far from a peaceful resolution.
Critics challenge Canberra's move to refuse visas for West Africans in Ebola-besieged countries.
A key issue for Hispanics is the estimated 11.3 million immigrants in the US without papers who face deportation.
In 1970, only two mosques existed in the country, but now more than 200 offer sanctuary to Japan's Muslims.
Hundreds of the country's reporters eke out a living by finding news - then burying it for a price.