7.7-magnitude earthquake struck off the Solomon Islands

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A major 7.7-magnitude quake struck on Friday off the Solomon Islands, but there were no reports of any serious damage, officials said.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre initially warned of possible “widespread, hazardous” tsunami waves and villagers rushed to higher ground. But within three hours the warning was downgraded after the threat passed without serious incident, reports BSS.

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The epicentre of the quake, which hit at 4:38 am (1738 GMT Thursday), was located 68 kilometres (42 miles) west of Kirakira, a provincial capital in the Solomon Islands, at a depth of 48 kilometres, the US Geological Survey said.

Electricity supplies were cut in some areas and there were reports of thatched houses collapsing. Donald Tehimae, an officer at the Kirakira police station, said most of the damage appeared to be superficial.

“Some houses have been damaged but no one was hurt. At the police station a lot of documents in the storeroom fell down,” he said.

The US Geological Survey said earlier that some casualties and damage were possible from the quake, warning that waves reaching 1-3 metres above tide level could occur along parts of the Solomons.

It had also warned some coasts in Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Nauru, New Caledonia, Tuvalu and Kosrae, as well as Hawaii, were at risk, before saying the threat had passed.

The Solomon Islands are often rocked by powerful earthquakes and are part of the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, a zone of tectonic activity known for frequent quakes and volcanic eruptions.

It is one of the most seismically active parts of the world. In 2013, the islands were hit by a tsunami after an 8.0-magnitude quake, leaving at least 10 people dead and thousands homeless after buildings were destroyed.

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