A 7.7-magnitude earthquake struck Friday off the Solomon Islands, raising the threat of “widespread, hazardous” tsunami waves, officials said.
The US Geological Survey said some casualties and damage were possible from the quake, while the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said some coasts in the Solomons, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Nauru, New Caledonia, Tuvalu and Kosrae could be affected within the next three hours.
But the tsunami warnings for several Pacific islands, including those in Hawaii, were cancelled on Friday although PTWC said waves of up to 3 metres (10 feet) were still possible along the coast of the Solomon Islands and smaller tsunami waves could hit Papua New Guinea.
The epicentre of the quake, which hit at 4:38am (1738 GMT Thursday), was located 68 kilometres (42 miles) west of Kirakira, a provincial capital in the Solomon Islands, at a depth of 48 kilometres, USGS said.
“Overall, the population in this region resides in structures that are vulnerable to earthquake shaking, though some resistant structures exist,” it added.
Australian authorities also said there was no risk to its coastlines, while the New Zealand Civil Defence office said it was evaluating the threat.
In 2013, the islands were hit by a tsunami after an 8.0-magnitude quake, leaving at least 10 people dead and thousands homeless after buildings were destroyed.