Second major quake south-east of Solomon Islands | News | DW | 13.04.2014
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Second major quake south-east of Solomon Islands

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has cancelled a second alert for the region surrounding the Solomon Islands. This region was hit by two major offshore quakes - both were put around magnitude 7.5 - within 17 hours.

The second major earthquake near the Solomon Islands, measured at magnitude 7.4 by the US Geological Survey (USGS), struck at 23:36 local time (12:36 UTC), less than a day after another magnitude 7.6 quake that triggered a tsunami warning.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) issued a second Sunday warning for the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea - later lifting the alarm.

"Sea level readings indicate a tsunami was generated. It may have been destructive along coasts near the earthquake epicenter," the PTWC said in its clarification lifting the alert. The organization provided predicted arrival times for nearby areas, advising authorities to watch for unusually large waves up to two hours after these windows. "Danger to boats and coastal structures can continue for several hours due to rapid currents."

Warnings from the PTWC are issued as advice to government agencies, which can then respond accordingly.

"As local conditions can cause a wide variation in tsunami wave action the all clear determination must be made by local authorities," the PTWC cautioned.

The epicenter of the day's second quake, initially measured slightly stronger at 7.7, was roughly 111 kilometers (69 miles) south of Kirakira, the capital of Makira-Ulawa Province.

The previous quake, of an almost identical strength, struck early in the morning on Sunday local time. Although this prompted a tsunami warning that was later lifted, there were no immediate reports of damage onshore.

In between the two large quakes, several dozen aftershocks struck the same area, as is typical with such tectonic activity. Until the Sunday evening tremor, however, none of them had cleared magnitude 6.0. The Solomon Islands are in the Pacific "Ring of Fire," one of the areas on earth most prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

The islands, home to around 600,000 people, were already reeling from flash floods earlier in April that killed more than 20 people and left thousands homeless.

msh/pfd (AFP, Reuters)

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