SYDNEY (Reuters) – Authorities in the Solomon Islands said no tsunami warning would be issued after two powerful earthquakes on Tuesday damaged the Australian embassy, airport and shopping centers and caused power outages in the capital, Honiara.
The US Geological Survey said the first quake occurred in the sea at a depth of 15 kilometers (9 miles), about 16 kilometers southwest of Malango district.
Another earthquake measuring 6.0 on the Richter scale struck 30 minutes later.
“We have sent a helicopter to fly over it to check the extent and extent of the damage,” Brian Tumo, a public affairs official with the National Disaster Management Office, told Reuters by phone.
He said the focus of the disaster authority was on the island of Guadalcanal, where Honiara is located, and closest to the epicenter.
He said people rushed out of offices in a panic, looking for higher ground in the aftermath of the great earthquake.
“There are no known casualties but the roof of the High Commission building has collapsed, indicating potential damage across the city,” Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told parliament.
A Solomon Islands airline worker at the airport told Reuters by phone that Honiara International Airport had roof damage but the building was intact.
He said he still felt aftershocks, refusing to be named because he was not authorized to speak publicly. Airport staff will continue to work, but the affected section of the airport terminal was closed to passengers.
The Solomon Times reported that most of Honiara had no electricity, with initial assessments of damage to power lines being made.
The Solomon Islands Meteorological Service said there was no danger of a tsunami, but warned of unusual sea currents.
“People are also advised to be vigilant as the aftershocks are expected to continue,” she said on social media.
The director of the Meteorological Service, David Hiriacia, told Reuters that the power outage had delayed the advisory service.
“We haven’t been able to access the information as quickly as we’d like to do our threat analysis,” he said, adding, “We haven’t had access to our office building yet.”
The Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation said on Facebook that all radio services have stopped broadcasting.
Additional reporting by Kirsty Needham in Sydney and Akanksha Khushi in Bengaluru; Written by Alasdair Ball and Louis Jackson; Editing by Tom Hogg and Stephen Coates
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