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Shallow quake strikes Solomon Islands

world Updated: Jan 24, 2010 21:53 IST

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A shallow 5.6-magnitude earthquake struck near the Solomon Islands in the western Pacific on Monday, seismologists said, but there was no immediate tsunami warning or reports of damage.

The US Geological Survey said the quake was measured at a depth of about 10 kilometres (six miles) and struck 160 kilometres southeast of the town of Gizo at 1:19 am (1419 GMT Sunday).

Like much of the Pacific, the Solomons regularly experience earthquakes.

A string of earthquakes rocked the western Solomon Islands earlier in the month, with the largest of 7.2 causing a tsunami estimated at eight feet (nearly 2.5 metres).

Around 1,000 people -- almost a third of the population -- are believed to have been left homeless on Rendova island due to earthquake and tsunami damage.

In April 2007, an 8.0-magnitude earthquake in the western Solomons triggered a tsunami that killed more than 50 people and displaced thousands. Gizo harbour lost most of its wharves and jetties in the quake and subsequent tsunami.

In September last year, a devastating tsunami swept along coasts in the Pacific islands of Samoa and Tonga, killing 186 people and wiping out entire villages.

Villages and resorts in Samoa, American Samoa and northern Tonga were flattened by the giant waves generated by the massive earthquake, the strongest in a nearly a century.