22 Nov 2022

Solomon Islands hit by M7 quake

8:05 pm on 22 November 2022

Photo: US Geological Survey

Buildings including the international airport and Australia's embassy have been damaged after a series of earthquakes rocked Solomon Islands.

The underwater quakes off the coast of Guadalcanal caused power cuts in the capital, Honiara, but so far there have not been any reports of injuries.

The first and strongest of the series - at magnitude 7 - was followed by a magnitude 6 and then 5.1 and 4.7 aftershocks.

The United States Geological Survey said the first and most severe quake, with a magnitude of 7.0 (initially reported to be 7.3), hit offshore at a depth of 15km, about 16km southwest of the area of Malango.

A second quake, with a magnitude of 6.0, struck nearby 30 minutes later.

"There are no known injuries but the roof of the High Commission annex has collapsed, which would point to likely damage throughout the city," Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told Parliament.

A worker at Honiara International Airport where the ceiling has been damaged but the building was intact told Reuters that aftershocks were still being felt.

Airport staff would continue working but the damaged section of the airport terminal was closed to passengers, he said.

The Solomon Times newspaper reported power had been cut for most of Honiara, as preliminary assessments of damage to power lines were made.

Widespread power outages were also being reported across the island and the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation said on Facebook that all radio services were off air.

The National Disaster Management Office said it has received reports that people felt the quake but were waiting for reports of damage.

People had been advised to move to higher ground soon after the quake struck.

"People in Honiara moved up to higher ground in the minutes after the earthquake but some have now moved down," an official told Reuters by phone.

The Solomon Islands Meteorological Service said there was no tsunami threat, but has warned about unusual sea currents and was advising people to be vigilant.

The US tsunami warning service said early on there could be hazardous tsunami waves possible for coasts within 300km from the quake's epicentre, however, it has since withdrawn the warning.

A spokesman from Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare's office, George Hermind said: "Office tables and computers were thrown all over. It was very scary."

Brian Tom from the National Disaster Management Office said it had had reports of pieces of buildings falling on to cars, and cracks in buildings and on the ground.

Tom said residents should stay vigilant as there could be further damage.

The National Referral Hospital, located on the water's edge in Honiara, emptied out after the quake.

A government minister, Peter Shanel, said patients were on the road, some in wheelchairs, seeking taxis to drive them to higher ground.

RNZ Pacific's correspondent in Honiara Georgina Kekea said she was still feeling dizzy from the quake, which knocked over computer monitors and filing cabinets in offices.

Kekea said there was a lot of panic along the main street of Honiara when the quake struck.

An accurate picture of the extent of the damage would not be known for some time, she said.

The government's Attorney-General John Muria (Jnr) showed images on Twitter of the quake's impact on an office.


The National Emergency Management Authority said there was no forecast tsunami warning for New Zealand after the quake.

It said it would keep a close eye on the situation but at this stage there was no immediate threat to Aotearoa.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre warned earlier government agencies responsible for threatened coastal areas should take action to advise coastal populations at risk.

The centre also said tsunami waves were forecast to be less than 0.3m above the tide level for the coasts of Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu.

The Solomon Islands sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, an arc along the Pacific Ocean rim where many volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur.

Today's earthquake comes a day after a shallow 5.6 magnitude quake in the Indonesian province of West Java killed 162 people and injured hundreds more.

Rescue workers are continuing to search the rubble to look for survivors of the devastating earthquake that is known to have killed 162 people.

The governor of the province, Ridwan Kamil, said more than 13,000 have been displaced from their homes.

-RNZ / Reuters

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