NEW QUAKE ROCKS SOLOMON ISLANDS

SYDNEY, Australia (Australian Broadcasting Corp. April 3) – The Queensland Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) says another earthquake has rocked the Solomon Islands, as relief workers struggle to assess the damage in areas hit by yesterday's tsunami.

Today's quake happened about 9:00am AEST and measured 6.2 on the Richter scale. The bureau says there is no tsunami threat to Australia.

Thousands of people in the western Solomon Islands slept on hilltops overnight fearing another deadly quake as aftershocks hit the region, local officials say.

The government information service quoted former governor-general Sir Moses Pitakaka saying from the Western Province town of Gizo that thousands were homeless there.

Sir Moses said thousands more were likely to have lost their homes in other affected areas in the west of the impoverished South Pacific country.

Emergency workers on the island of Ghizo, which includes the town of Gizo, said they had already exhausted all of their stored supplies.

The Solomon Islands Red Cross estimated approximately 2,000 people, or 10 per cent of Gizo's population, were now homeless. Some 500 houses may have been damaged or destroyed.

Preliminary reports from other islands suggest similar or worse levels of damage, the government said in a statement.

Gizo, a popular diving centre, lies just 45 kilometres from the epicentre of the magnitude 8.0 earthquake which triggered Monday's tsunami.

Areas in Western Province and neighbouring Choiseul province bore the brunt of the damage.

Deputy police commissioner Peter Marshall said there were 20 confirmed dead so far and he feared the toll would rise.

Police spokesman Mick Spinks said reports had come in of 13 villages being destroyed by the tsunami.

ABC News Online: http://www.abc.net.au/news/ © 2006 ABC. All Rights Reserved

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