A tsunami has hit the South Pacific nation of the Solomon Islands after a powerful earthquake measuring 8.0 on the Richter scale struck the nearby Santa Cruz Islands.
The quake struck early Tuesday at a very shallow depth of only five km (three miles) and was located 340 km (211 miles) east of Kira Kira in the Solomons, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii said. Initially, tsunami alerts and warnings were issued for a wide swathe of the South Pacific following the major temblor, with the countries of Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia also placed under the alert as a precautionary measure.
News sources from the Solomon's are stating that a tsunami measuring approximately .09 meters struck the island shortly after the earthquake occurred. The tsunami has devastated the town of Lata, where hundreds of homes were washed away. At present, five deaths have been reported, but many people are still listed as missing. Essential services such as water and electricity have been cut to the islands due to the earthquake and tsunami.
Officials with the government have stated that there is news of several ships with significant crews being swept out to sea by the destructive surge of the tsunami. Powerful aftershocks continue to be recorded following the earthquake, and areas of Lata township are still partially underwater as the surge waters have been slow to recede.
Today's catastrophe comes only six years after the devastating earthquake and tsunami combination that hit the region in 2007. The 8.1 earthquake triggered a significantly larger tsunami which measured at least ten feet. That event left 52 people dead and thousands of citizens homeless.