Major Earthquake Hits Solomon Islands: Tsunami Created, Buildings Have Collapsed
People flee to hills; reports still coming in about damage in Makira-Ulawa Province
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Dec. 9, 2016) – Reports are coming in of collapsed buildings and landslides in the quake-affected Makira & Ulawa province of the Solomon Islands.
A 7.8 magnitude earthquake stuck at about 4.30am local time today, about 70 kilometres off Kirakira, the capital of the province in the country's south.
John Gordon Hoto, deputy principal of Marou Bay Primary School in West Makira, said the earthquake destroyed the school's office building and a classroom and severely damaged staff housing.
He said there had also been several landslides in the area and there were reports of more destruction in other villages in the Marou Bay area.
"I think we need assistance from the national government to come down here and just witness what is happening," he said.
"The office block [has] fallen down and our classroom [is] about to fall and our staff houses were moved sideways and are just about to fall.
"So I think we need some assistance from the national government to help us."
On the east coast, building and water tanks at Pawa Secondary School on Ugi Island have been damaged.
Teacher Zinnia Tai said one girls' dormitory, a staff house and the students' sanitation block have been flattened.
She said it was lucky all students had left for the holidays, or many would have died when their dormitory collapsed.
Mrs Tai said all the water tanks had been damaged and this will affect drinking water supplies.
Quake triggers Tsunami
A tsunami of almost one metre was reportedly observed on the east coast of New Caledonia's main island.
Warnings were in place urging people to seek higher ground but have since been lifted.
In Hienghene the first wave arrived about two hours after the quake with reports saying the waves came in six-minute intervals - the biggest arriving three and a half hours after the quake hit Solomon Islands.
In the Solomons, the National Disaster Management Office said communities on Makira's southwestern coast have confirmed that a tsunami reached the island and alerts have been broadcast around the country through the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation.
People fled to the hills for safety following the quake and are yet to return to their homes as unusual tidal surges continue in the area.
A nurse at Ngarigohu Clinic in South Arosi Hedson Taro said initially the sea rose and pulled canoes out to sea and has since continued to surge in and out leaving coral reefs completely exposed between surges.
He said people in his area have not managed to access radio warnings but have been staying updated via mobile phones.