23 Nov 2022

Swarm of quakes cause worry in Solomon Islands

10:16 am on 23 November 2022

Photo: US Geological Survey

Much of the Solomon Islands experienced a series of earthquakes on Tuesday and into Wednesday, the most severe being a magnitude 7 quake.

The underwater quakes occurred off the west coast of Guadalcanal and initially sparked threats of tsunami, but these were later lifted by the Solomon Islands Meteorological Service and the Pacific Tsunami Centre.

The US Geological Survey reports the magnitude 7 quake was 15km deep, just after 1pm Tuesday, local time.

A magnitude 6 jolt and ten shallower quakes followed.

The Solomon Star reports businesses, government offices and schools being closed in the aftermath and a power outage in Honiara.

It says many people moved to higher grounds in case of a tsunami.

Part of the ceiling in Honiara's international airport terminal collapsed, and the roof of an annexe fell in at the Australian Embassy.

There are also unconfirmed reports of cracks in the parliament building in Honiara.

The national broadcaster, the SIBC, was forced off air for 30 minutes by power cuts.

Government Minister Peter Shanel said the National Referral Hospital, which is on the water's edge in Honiara, was emptied out, with patients on the road, some in wheelchairs seeking taxis to drive them to higher ground.

RNZ Pacific's correspondent in Honiara, Georgina Kekea, said there was some anxiety on the streets from parents rushing to schools to ensure their children were fine.

She said the quake knocked over computer monitors and filing cabinets in offices.