The Australian foreign minister says her country is ready to help the earthquake-hit Solomon Islands if needed.
“I was in the Solomon Islands this week and I am, of course, deeply concerned at the impact of this natural disaster on the people of the Solomon Islands,” Julie Bishop told reoorters in Canberra.
“The Australian High Commission is working closely with local authorities to determine the extent of any damage and to see if any persons have been affected by this natural disaster.”
There have been reports of small tsunami waves caused by aftershocks in the Solomon Islands after a powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck on Friday.
Is there any damage?
The authorities in the South Pacific nation say they have not found any evidence of casualties or widespread damage.
Communication, however, can be difficult across the archipelago, which comprises an estimated 900 islands.
The US Geological Survey says the quake hit around 200 kilometres southeast of Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands.
It was relatively deep at 48 kilometres below the surface.
The huge underwater tremor triggered a tsunami warning for a wide swath of the South Pacific.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center later cancelled the alert.
However, the threat of aftershocks, unusual waves, abnormal high tides and currents have led to many villagers near the epicentre leaving to spend the night in the hills.
Life back to normal
LIfe appeared to be back to normal for most people on the six main islands in the Solomons.
However, residents in the southern province of Makira, closest to the epicentre, remain cautious.
The province on San Cristobal island, around 200 kilometres east of the capital, Honiara, was still being rattled by aftershocks more than 12 hours after the first quake.
What is the Ring of Fire?
The Solomon Islands are part of what is known as the Pacific “Ring of Fire”.
This is a string of volcanoes and sites of seismic activity around the edges of the Pacific Ocean.
- 75% of all active volcanoes on Earth
- A horseshoe-shape of 40,000 kilometres diameter
- 452 volcanes stretch from the southern tip of South America round in an arc to New Zealand
Find out more about the Pacific Ring of Fire here
What they are saying
“We are quite safe up the hill from the sea,” – John Pirimare, resident of Nafinua Island.
“Some people are beginning to come back into town, but others have stayed at the higher ground,” – Constable Abel Muri, Makira.
“Waves have come in to the villages and taken away the dugout canoes that were on the shore and also some houses that were down near the beach, but when it came through, all of the villagers had already taken off,” – Martin Karani. a politician from Makira.