9 Feb 2013

7.1 aftershock in Solomons sends villagers fleeing

9:38 am on 9 February 2013

A huge aftershock rocked the islands of Santa Cruz in Solomon Islands sending villagers fleeing to higher ground.

The 7.1-magnitude tremor in the early hours of Saturday morning was the latest in a series of aftershocks, Friday morning a 6.7 struck the same group of islands.

The national disaster management office spokesman, Sipuru Rove, has told AFP the 7.1 quake, at a shallow depth of nine kilometres, and just 23 kilometres from the main town, Lata, rocked buildings for 30 to 40 seconds.

Mr Rove, who was in the coastal town when the tremor hit, said villagers fled for higher ground.

He says the aftershocks are hampering relief efforts on Ndende island in the eastern Solomons, where Wednesday's tsunami inundated some 20 villages and left thousands homeless.

The aftershocks have prevented villagers from returning home and hampered their efforts to salvage supplies from damaged houses and bring them to makeshift camps.

Geoscience Australia says while the latest tremor was smaller than the one which caused the destructive tsunami, as it was much closer to the island of Ndende the intensity of the shaking would have been much greater.