Quakes Shake Solomon Islands; No injuries or Damage Reported

January 5, 2010

The Solomon Islands were shaken by a string of earthquakes Monday – including one registering a powerful 7.2 magnitude – but officials in the South Pacific country said there were no immediate reports of injuries or widespread damage.

The tremors were centered beneath the ocean floor near the town of Gizo, which was badly damaged in April 2007 when an 8.1 magnitude quake sent a tsunami crashing into the coast, killing more than 50 people.

Local officials said a small tsunami was reported after Monday’s earthquakes, and there were unconfirmed reports of limited damage.

The Solomons’ National Disaster Management Office warned residents to be on alert for possible high tides or waves, and police were checking reports that quake-triggered landslides had caused damage, the Solomon Star newspaper reported on its Web site.

The U.S. Geological Survey recorded seven earthquakes in the region since late Sunday. The largest, of magnitude 7.2, was centered 64 miles (103 kilometers) southeast of Gizo, and followed a magnitude 6.5 quake less than two hours earlier centered 54 miles (90 kilometers) southeast of Gizo at a depth of 6 miles (10 kilometers), the organization said.

The regional Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was no threat of a Pacific-wide tsunami.

Gizo hotel operator Chelsea Kennedy told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. that guests were evacuated to open ground as the area was shaken. There was no damage apparent in Gizo, she said.

The Solomon Islands lie on the “Ring of Fire” – an arc of earthquake and volcanic zones that stretches around the Pacific Rim and where about 90 percent of the world’s earthquakes occur.

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