WELLINGTON, New Zealand - A tsunami unleashed by a major earthquake plowed into the Solomon Islands yesterday, and the crashing waters devastated at least one village. Initial reports said no one was seriously hurt.
Major quakes have rocked the South Pacific region since Sunday, with three powerful temblors striking yesterday, including a 7.2 magnitude tremor. The Solomon Island’s National Disaster Management Office said reports of the devastation were beginning to filter in late yesterday.
The tremors were centered beneath the ocean floor near the town of Gizo, which was badly damaged in April 2007 when a 8.1-magnitude quake sent a tsunami crashing into the coast, killing more than 50 people.
Yesterday’s tsunami devastated a village on Rendova Island, some 188 miles from the capital Honiara, disaster management official Loti Yates said.
“One report from police was that one village was hit by a 6- to 10-foot wall of sea water,’’ Yates said. “It was a total inundation police saw in a flyover.’’ Rendova is home to about 3,600 people.
Yates said in Baniata village on Rendova’s coast, 16 houses were destroyed and 32 were damaged by the quake and the wave.
Ten foreign tourists were staying on Tetepare Island, an uninhabited ecotourism site, and the four Germans, four Britons, and two New Zealanders were evacuated. Unconfirmed reports said two had been injured.
Two helicopters and a police boat were conducting damage assessments and a vessel carrying water, food and tarpaulins was dispatched from Honiara.