A strong 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck the Solomon Islands on Tuesday. Eyewitnesses reported violent shaking that threw objects to the ground and cut off power to parts of the capital, Honiara.
“It was a big deal,” Joy Nisha, receptionist at Heritage Park Hotel in the capital, Honiara, told AFP. “Some things in the hotel fell down. Everyone seems fine but panicking.”
An AFP reporter in Honiara said the shaking lasted about 20 seconds.
There were no immediate reports of serious structural damage to buildings, but power had gone out in some areas of the city and people were rushing from their offices and fleeing to higher ground.
The nation’s Attorney General John Muria posted images on social media of office files spilling out of large metal filing cabinets.
The US Geological Survey downgraded the magnitude of the earthquake from an original 7.3.
The earthquake occurred at a relatively shallow depth of 10 kilometers just off the southwest coast of the island of Guadalcanal.
A tsunami warning has been issued for an area of the Solomon Islands coast within 300 kilometers (185 miles) of the epicenter.
“Tsunami waves reaching 0.3 to 1 meter above tide are possible on some coasts in the region,” a United Nations-backed Pacific Alert System said.
Some coastal regions of Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu have also been placed on alert for tsunami waves up to 30 centimeters (12 inches).
According to the UN, around 20,000 people live within a 50-kilometer radius of the epicenter.
About 800,000 people live in the Solomon Islands – a vast archipelago in the South Pacific.
© Agence France-Presse