A 7.0 MAGNITUDE earthquake struck the Solomon Islands today, with eyewitnesses reporting violent shaking that hurled items to the ground and knocked out power in parts of the capital Honiara.
“This was a big one,” Joy Nisha, a receptionist with the Heritage Park Hotel in the capital Honiara, told AFP. “Some of the things in the hotel fell. Everyone seems OK, but panicky.”
An AFP reporter in Honiara said the shaking lasted for around 20 seconds.
There were no immediate reports of serious structural damage, but power was out in some areas of the city and people were rushing from their offices and fleeing to higher ground.
“I was really scared because this is the first time I felt this kind of earthquake,” said a manager at the Pacific Casino Hotel, who asked not to be named.
“The building was really violently shaking,” she said. “It was really strong, it made you move side to side.”
Dozens of staff and guests fled the building to the relative safety of the car park, hoping not to be hit by debris on the way out.
The nation’s attorney general, John Muria, posted images on social media of office files that had spilled from several large metal filing cabinets.
The US Geological Survey revised the earthquake’s magnitude down from an initial 7.3.
The quake struck at a relatively shallow depth of 10 km, just off the southwest coast of Guadalcanal island.
A tsunami warning had been issued for an area of the Solomons coast within 300 km of the epicentre, but the UN-backed Pacific warning centre later said the threat had “largely” passed.
Solomon Islands authorities also said the tsunami threat had passed, but urged caution.
“We expect aftershocks so people should stay alert around buildings and tall structures because of the size of the earthquake,” said David Hiba Hiriasia, director of the Solomon Islands Meteorological Service.
According to UN data, about 20,000 people live within 50 km of the epicentre.
The Solomons—a sprawling archipelago in the South Pacific—is home to about 800,000 people.
The quake hit exactly a year after anti-government riots that killed at least three people and caused tens of millions of dollars in damage. – AFP, November 22, 2022.