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Solomon Islands Hit by earthquake and tsunami -- Fiji spared

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Feb. 7, 2013) – Police in the Solomon Islands say at least six people have been killed after an earthquake and tsunami struck the Pacific nation on Wednesday. The 8.0-magnitude quake caused major damage to villages in the Santa Cruz islands and triggered a small tsunami that sparked warnings in several Pacific countries. International aid agency World Vision says the communities of Venga and Nela in Temotu have been almost wiped out by a one meter-high wave. World Vision also says at least 100 homes have been destroyed, while water and electricity are out. Unconfirmed reports say some people and fishing boats may have been swept out to sea by the surge. Solomon Islands Police Commissioner John Lansley says the worst hit area is around Lata, where a 90-centimeter wave washed ashore. The quake struck just after midday local time, according to the Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said. The Australian detention centre on Manus Island was evacuated, while the tsunami warning caused chaos across the Solomons, with people moving to higher ground and major traffic jams in Honiara. Boats and ships were also moved to open water, with an ocean liner departing from Tonga an hour early to avoid potential waves. Authorities in the Solomons, Fiji, Guam and elsewhere had urged residents to higher ground before the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre cancelled its alerts.

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