“A spokesman for the Solomon Islands prime minister, George Herming, said the 1.5 metre waves that roared into Santa Cruz Island on Wednesday were too fast to outrun for some villagers.
Among the dead was a group of five elderly people and a child who were unable to escape.
Solomon Islands authorities said it was hard to assess the damage caused to the island nation, but said several villages were believed badly damaged or destroyed.
“It is too early to have a clear picture of the damage caused,” the nation’s disaster management office said.
“A powerful earthquake in the South Pacific generated a tsunami Wednesday that prompting warnings to several island nations.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center says sea level readings indicate a tsunami formed after the 8.0 earthquake near the Solomon Islands and that it may be destructive near the epicenter. More distant coasts may be threatened.
The quake occurred near Lata in Temotu province, the easternmost province of the Solomons, about a 3-hour flight from the capital, Honiara. The region has a population of around 30,000 people.
The tsunami warning is in effect for the Solomons, Vanuatu, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu, New Caledonia, Kosrae, Fiji, Kiribati, Wallis and Futuna. A tsunami watch is in effect for American Samoa, Australia, New Zealand and eastern Indonesia.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake struck 81 kilometers (50 miles) west of Lata, at a depth of 5.8 kilometers (3.6 miles).
“A tsunami warning was issued for the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu, New Caledonia, Kosrae, Fiji, Kiribati, and Wallis and Futuna, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.
A tsunami watch was in effect for more places: the Marshall Islands, Howland and Baker, Pohnpei, Tokelau, Samoa, Kermadec Islands, New Zealand, American Samoa, Tonga, Australia, Niue, Cook Islands, Indonesia, Wake Island, Chuuk, Jarvis Island, Guam, Northern Marianas, Palmyra Island, Yap, Johnston Island, Minamitorishima and Pelau.
Brian Shiro, a geophysicist at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, told CNN that instruments near the Solomon Islands indicated that a tsunami was in fact generated. It is 1 meter high, he said, describing it as “significant.”
The quake was followed by several aftershocks in the region, the largest of which had a magnitude of 6.6, the USGS said.
“Homes were damaged and at least five people have been reported dead after a tsunami triggered by an undersea earthquake hit the Solomon Islands.
A tsunami measuring 0.9m (3ft) then hit Lata on eastern Santa Cruz island, swamping the island’s airport.
A tsunami warning was triggered for several Pacific nations, but was cancelled about two hours later.
Lata is the main town on Santa Cruz, also known as Nendo. It is the largest island in the Santa Cruz island chain, part of the Solomon Islands nation.
The worst of the damage was said to have been on the western coast of Santa Cruz, with one report putting the waves there at 1.5m.