Magnitude 7.9 earthquake hits Solomon Islands

No tsunami, casualties resulted from the quake that rumbled under the eastern province of Bougainville.

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Aerial View of Marovo Lagoon, Solomon Islands
Aerial view of the Solomon Islands during United Nations observations of the effects of natural disasters on the area. UNPhoto/Flickr

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — A powerful magnitude 7.9 earthquake struck deep under Papua New Guinea on Sunday, causing damage and blackouts but no tsunami hours after the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued an alert for nearby islands.

The mid-afternoon quake struck at a depth of 167 kilometers (103 miles) beneath the eastern province of Bougainville, where Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands meet in a continuous South Pacific archipelago, said Chris McKee, assistant director of Papua New Guinea Geophysical Observatory in Port Moresby.

No casualties were reported. But there was damage in parts of central Bougainville and the major town of Arawa, Aloysius Laukai, manager of New Dawn FM Bougainville radio station, said in an email. The provincial capital of Buka was blacked out and residents of the southern town of Buin were moved to higher ground as a precaution against a potential tsunami, Laukai said.

All tsunami warnings were later lifted.The greatest tsunami threat had been to Bougainville and that threat had passed without any report of a tsunami, McKee said.

destruction-solomon-islands
Island natives are all too familiar with tsunami damage following a magnitude 8.4 earthquake in 2007. AusAID/Wikimedia Commons

“I suspect that because of the great depth of the earthquake, there was probably no significant tsunami,” McKee said.

Jennifer El-Sibai, Save the Children’s Country director in Papua New Guinea, said that national and provincial disaster authorities were monitoring the tsunami situation and Save the Children staff were ready to respond if required.

Solomons government official George Herming said he was not aware of any major tremors being felt in his country or any tsunami.

The countries are located in the Pacific’s geologically active “Ring of Fire.”