DHAKA: A major 8.0 magnitude earthquake jolted the Solomon Islands Wednesday with small tsunami waves buffeting Pacific coastlines, leaving at least five people dead and dozens of homes damaged or destroyed.
A quake-generated wave of just under one metre (three feet) reached parts of the Solomons, and Vanuatu and New Caledonia also reported rising sea levels, before a region-wide tsunami alert was lifted.
Sirens were heard in Fiji, locals said.
‘Chaos in the streets of Suva as everyone tries to avoid the tsunami!!’ tweeted Ratu Nemani Tebana from the Fiji capital.
Quake-prone Japan, which was hit by a huge tsunami in March 2011 that killed more than 19,000 people, was also on edge with the national weather agency warning that a small tsunami could still come ashore.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center cancelled its regional alert for Pacific-island nations at 0350 GMT, about two and a half hours after the powerful quake struck at 0112 GMT near the Santa Cruz Islands in the Solomons.
‘We can report five dead and three injured. One of the dead was a male child, three were elderly women and one an elderly man,’ Chris Rogers, a nurse at Lata Hospital in the Santa Cruz Islands, told media, reports daily Hurriyet.
Solomons Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo’s office said four villages on the Santa Cruz Islands had been hit.