Feb 6 2013
A powerful earthquake in the South Pacific generated a tsunami that prompted warnings to several island nations.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said a tsunami of three feet was measured in Lata wharf, in the Solomon Islands. No damage was immediately reported there or in Vanuatu, which was also covered by the warning.
The statement said the waves could be destructive near the epicentre and threaten more distant coasts.
The tsunami formed after a 8.0-magnitude earthquake near near Lata in Temotu province, the easternmost province of the Solomons, about a 3-hour flight from the capital, Honiara. The region has a population of around 30,000 people.
In Honiara, the warning prompted residents to flee for higher ground.
"People are still standing on the hills outside of Honiara just looking out over the water, trying to observe if there is a wave coming in," said George Herming, a spokesman for the prime minister. So far, he had received no reports that a wave had been observed in Honiara.
Atenia Tahu, who works for the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation, in Honiara, said most people were remaining calm.
He said: "People around the coast and in the capital are ringing in and trying to get information from us and the National Disaster Office and are slowly moving up to higher ground. But panic? No, no, no, people are not panicking."
The tsunami warning also covered Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu, New Caledonia, Kosrae, Fiji, Kiribati, Wallis and Futuna. A tsunami watch is in effect for American Samoa, Australia, New Zealand and eastern Indonesia.
The US Geological Survey said the quake struck 50 miles west of Lata, at a depth of 3.6 miles.