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Fears ebb as tsunami dies out

Tevita Vuibau
Thursday, February 07, 2013

THE United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) report last night confirmed four people dead and two missing after the tsunami generated by a magnitude 8.0 earthquake near Santa Cruz in the Solomon Islands yesterday.

Two massive waves hit the Temotu provincial capital of Lata at about 1pm, destroying houses and causing damage to coastal communities.

Speaking to The Fiji Times from the Solomon Islands last night, Solomon Star acting editor Moffat Mamu also gave an account of what their people experienced on the island at the height of the natural disaster.

"The information we are receiving is that three villages in Lata were damaged by the two waves," Mr Mamu said.

He said a one-metre wave hit Lata after lunch with a second smaller wave making impact soon after.

"What we are hearing is that the earthquake caused houses on the island to collapse and the waves came in soon after, causing more damage," Mr Mamu said.

"The waves also reached the Lata airstrip," he said.

Mr Mamu said a team from the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) was dispatched to Temotu to assess the full extent of damage in the wake of the tsunami and the earthquake.

The power of the earthquake was also felt in other parts of the Solomon Islands with Makira Island located West of Santa Cruz experiencing unusual wave activity.

"People in Makira also saw the change in the size of the waves. They were becoming higher and residents had to move to higher ground but at the moment, we have no reports of other places being affected," he said.

"We should have a better idea of casualties and the full extent of the damage by tomorrow (today)."

The OCHA's report stated that the United States Geological Survey (USGS) reported that the earthquake had a depth of 28.7 kilometres and a further 19 aftershocks, ranging from 4.9 to 6.6 magnitude.

The warning was issued for Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu, New Caledonia, Kosrae, Fiji, Kiribati, and Wallis and Futuna.


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