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7.6 Earthquake Rocks Solomon Islands

By Allie Goolrick
Published: April 12, 2014

A reported 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck the Solomon Islands on Sunday morning around 7:14 a.m. local time, according to the United States Geological Survey. Tsunami warnings for the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea were issued but have since been canceled, but the quake is reported to have generated large waves. Authorities were trying to determine if there was any serious damage or injuries.

Government spokesman George Herming said people throughout the Pacific island chain awoke to the strong quake at 7:14 a.m. He said that people on Makira and nearby islands southeast of the capital, Honiara, reported seeing three large waves after the quake.

The earthquake's epicenter was 200 miles southeast of Honiara, the Solomons capital, and hit at 7:14 a.m. local time.

Originally estimated at magnitude-8.3, it was downgraded twice and finally reportd at 7.6 magnitude. At least three strong aftershocks were reported after the initial earthquake measuring at 4.9 and above.

(MORE: Solomon Islands Floods Kill 23)

U.S. officials say there is no threat of a tsunami to the coasts of California, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii or Alaska after a magnitude-7.6 earthquake struck in the Pacific Ocean near the Solomon Islands.

Director Paul Whitmore of the National Tsunami Warning Center in Alaska said powerful waves don't threaten the U.S. West Coast or Canada after the quake hit after noon Pacific time.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii says Hawaii isn't threatened after the earthquake's magnitude was downgraded from initial estimates.

The Solomon Islands, home to 600,000 people, was already reeling from devastating flash floods that struck Honiara and other areas April 3. The floods have killed 23 people and left 9,000 more homeless. Herming said up to 30 more people remain missing.

"It has really been a tough time," he said.

Andrew Catford, the Solomon Islands country director for World Vision, said that the aid group's staff in the Kirakira office in Makira province reported that there was no tsunami, but strong currents and heavy waves pounding the reefs. He said the group's staff evacuated to higher ground as a precaution.

"We felt this one strongly in Honiara. It was close to 30 seconds long," he said.

The Solomon Islands lies on the "Ring of Fire" - an arc of earthquake and volcanic activity that stretches around the Pacific Rim.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage from the temblor. This is a developing story.

MORE: Nicaragua Earthquake April 2014

Two men talk outside a home damaged by an earthquake in Nagarote, Nicaragua, Friday, April 11, 2014. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)


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