Earth Watch Report  –  Tsunami

Solomons children flee

Solomon Islands school children flee to higher ground after the tsunami warning. Image: Twitter @ bencmcnair

 

3 07.02.2013 Tsunami Solomon Islands [Santa Cruz Island coastal area] Damage level
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Tsunami in Solomon Islands on Wednesday, 06 February, 2013 at 05:28 (05:28 AM) UTC.

Description
A powerful earthquake off the Solomon Islands generated a tsunami of up to 1.5 meters (about 5 feet) that damaged dozens of homes in the South Pacific island chain Wednesday, but authorities canceled warnings for tsunamis on more distant coasts. There were no initial reports of deaths or injuries. Solomons officials reported two 1.5-meter (4 foot, 11-inch) waves hit the western side of Santa Cruz Island, damaging around 50 homes and properties, said George Herming, a spokesman for the prime minister. Many villagers had headed to higher ground as a precaution, Herming said. The tsunami formed after an 8.0-magnitude earthquake struck near Lata on Santa Cruz in Temotu province, the easternmost province of the Solomons, about a 3-hour flight from the capital, Honiara. The region has a population of around 30,000 people. In Honiara, the warnings had prompted residents to flee for higher ground. “People are still standing on the hills outside of Honiara just looking out over the water, trying to observe if there is a wave coming in,” Herming said. So far, he had received no reports that a wave had been spotted in Honiara. Atenia Tahu, who works for the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corp. in Honiara, said most people were remaining calm. “People around the coast and in the capital are ringing in and trying to get information from us and the National Disaster Office and are slowly moving up to higher ground,” Tahu said. “But panic? No, no, no, people are not panicking.”

Tsunami in Solomon Islands on Wednesday, 06 February, 2013 at 05:28 (05:28 AM) UTC.

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Updated: Wednesday, 06 February, 2013 at 10:50 UTC
Description
A tsunami has struck the eastern Solomon Islands after a powerful earthquake that briefly triggered warnings for several South Pacific nations. The magnitude 8.0 quake near the Santa Cruz Islands is reported to have destroyed at least three villages. Officials in the Solomon Islands say there may be casualties. The U.S. Geological Survey says a tsunami measuring 0.9 meters hit the town of Lata in the Santa Cruz Island chain in the eastern part of the Solomon Islands. Officials say the wave swept half a kilometer inland, destroying homes and sending panicked residents fleeing to higher ground. Solomon Islands Police Commissioner John Lansley says authorities are trying to establish how much damage the tsunami has caused. “We believe that three, possibly four villages have been affected,” said Lansley. “The severity we are not clear about and I do not want to speculate, but we are doing our utmost to establish a little bit more information about the effects of the surge wave. We also are not clear on casualties, although we believe there may be casualties.”

Tsunami in Solomon Islands on Wednesday, 06 February, 2013 at 05:28 (05:28 AM) UTC.

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Updated: Wednesday, 06 February, 2013 at 12:39 UTC
Description
A powerful 8.0 magnitude earthquake set off a tsunami that killed at least five people in a remote part of the Solomon Islands on Wednesday and triggered evacuations across the South Pacific as island nations issued tsunami alerts. The quake struck 340 km (211 miles) east of Kira Kira in the Solomons, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii said as it issued warnings for the Solomons and other South Pacific nations including Australia and New Zealand. It later canceled the warnings for the outlying regions. A tsunami measuring 0.9 metres (three feet) hit near the town of Lata on the remote Santa Cruz island, swamping some villages and the town’s main airport as people fled to safety on higher ground.

More than three dozen aftershocks up to magnitude 6.6 rocked the region in the hours after the quake, the U.S. Geological Survey said. Lata hospital’s director of nursing, Augustine Pilve, told New Zealand television that five people had been killed, including a boy about 10 years old, adding that more casualties were possible as officials made their way to at least three villages that may have been hit. “It’s more likely that other villages along the coast of Santa Cruz may be affected,” he said. Disaster officials in the Solomon Islands capital Honiara told the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corp. that they believed six people were dead and that five villages had suffered damage. Solomon Islands Police Commissioner John Lansley said it was too early to fully assess the damage or casualty numbers, and said authorities hoped to send aircraft to the region on Thursday to help determine the extent of the damage. Luke Taula, a fisheries officer in Lata, said he watched the tsunami as it came in small tidal surges rather than as one large wave. “We have small waves come in, then go out again, then come back in. The waves have reached the airport terminal,” he told Reuters by telephone. The worst damage was to villages on the western side of a point that protects the main township, he said.

Tsunami in Solomon Islands on Wednesday, 06 February, 2013 at 05:28 (05:28 AM) UTC.

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Updated: Thursday, 07 February, 2013 at 03:41 UTC
Description
Six bodies, including a child’s, have been found in the sodden wreckage left by a tsunami that smashed into villages in the Solomon Islands, flattening dozens of homes in the South Pacific island chain. The 1.5-meter (4 foot, 11-inch) waves that roared inland on Santa Cruz Island, in the eastern Solomons, on Wednesday were too fast to outrun for five elderly villagers and one child, who died after being sucked under the rushing water, George Herming, a spokesman for the prime minister, said Thursday. Several other people were still missing and dozens of strong aftershocks were keeping frightened villagers from returning to the coast, Herming said. “People are still scared of going back to their homes because there’s nothing left, so they are residing in temporary shelters on higher ground,” Herming said.

The tsunami was generated by a powerful 8.0-magnitude earthquake that struck near the town of Lata, on Santa Cruz in Temotu, the easternmost province in the Solomons. Temotu has a population of around 30,000. Smaller waves were recorded in Vanuatu and New Caledonia. The damage appeared to be concentrated to the west side of Santa Cruz, with five villages wiped out, Herming said. Authorities were still struggling to reach the remote area but an estimated 100 homes had been damaged or destroyed, he said. The tsunami flooded the airstrip at the nearest airport and left it littered with debris, preventing relief workers from reaching the region by air. Smaller islands may also have sustained some damage, but workers had also not yet reached those areas, Herming said.

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