A powerful earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.9 has rocked the northern region of the Solomon Islands. A tsunami warning has been issued in both the region, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.
The earthquake struck at 3:30 p.m. local time on Sunday, It was centered about 42 kilometers (26 miles) northwest of Panguna, a town on Bougainville Island that is located northeast of mainland Papua New Guinea and is geographically part of the Solomon Islands archipelago.
Both the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) given the magnitude of the earthquake at 7.9, down from initial estimates of 8.4 and 8.0. It informed that the quake struck at a depth of about 136 kilometres (84 miles), making it a relatively deep earthquake.
A tsunami alert that was initially issued for Nauru, Pohnpei, Kosrae, Vanuatu, Chuuk and Indonesia has been cancelled. Those areas, as well as other countries across the Pacific basin, could experience non-damaging tsunami waves of up to 30 centimetres (1 feet).
“Overall, the population in this region resides in structures that are vulnerable to earthquake shaking, though some resistant structures exist,” the USGS said in its assessment. “Some casualties and damage are possible and the impact should be relatively localised.”
The Solomon Islands are on the so-called ‘Pacific Ring of Fire’, an arc of fault lines circling the Pacific Basin that is prone to frequent and large earthquakes. The Solomon Islands arc experiences a very high level of earthquake activity, and many tremors of magnitude 7 and larger have been recorded since the early decades of the twentieth century.
Earlier on April 2, 2007, a major 8.1-magnitude earthquake struck near the New Georgia Islands of the Solomon Islands. It unleashed a regional tsunami, killing 52 people and destroying more than 300 homes, schools and a hospital at Sasamunga. Two people were killed as a result of landslides, which were triggered by the earthquake.