HEAVY DAMAGE IN SOLOMONS AFTER 8.1 QUAKE

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, April 1) – Two people have reportedly died after this morning’s large earthquake in Solomon Islands.

The earthquake of 7.8 magnitude on the Richter Scale struck at around 7:30 a.m. Solomons time 10 kilometres deep and around 25 kilometres from Gizo, the capital of Western province.

[PIR editor’s note: According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the quake measured 8.1 on the Richter scale. The earthquake triggered tsunami warnings across the Pacific. The ABC reported one death but said it had not been confirmed. Damage was extensive on the remote islands of Gizo, Lefung and Taro, the news service reported. ]

The Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation says that two people are confirmed dead and a further four are reported missing.

The SIBC’s Charles Tennat says the damage in Gizo is extensive with a number of buildings destroyed and the town’s shorefront battered by high waves.

He says the sea water has crippled the Gizo’s phone lines and electricity as well as the town’s financial and commercial areas.

"Because all the shops and the government and private offices are located near the shoreline. And the Western Provincial government has advised its workers not to go to work this morning because of the offices being flooded with water. About ten houses are reported to have been swept away to the sea. One resort is reported to have submerged."

The authorities in New Caledonia have lifted the tsunami warning.

They say a small wave reached the territory as anticipated.

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