A major earthquake struck near the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific but there is no tsunami threat to Hawaii, authorities said today.
The magnitude 7.0 quake struck just after 4 p.m. Hawaii time and was centered about 10 miles southwest of Malango, Guadalcanal in the islands, and at a depth of about 8 miles, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
“Based on all available data a destructive Pacific-wide tsunami is not expected and there is no tsunami threat to Hawaii,” the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii said. The PTWC estimated the magnitude at 7.3.
In the Solomon Islands, the quake overturned tables and sent people racing for higher ground, according to the Associated Press.
There were no immediate reports of widespread damage or injuries. An initial tsunami warning for the area was withdrawn after the threat passed.
Government spokesperson George Herming said he was in his office on the second floor of a building in the capital, Honiara, when the quake rocked the city. He said he crawled underneath his table.
“It’s a huge one that just shocked everybody,” Herming said. “We have tables and desks, books and everything scattered all over the place as a result of the earthquake, but there’s no major damage to structure or buildings,” he said.
Herming said the Solomon Islands, which is home to about 700,000 people, doesn’t have any big high-rises that might be vulnerable to a quake. He said there was some panic around the town and traffic jams as everybody tried to drive to higher ground.
Freelance journalist Charley Piringi said he was standing outside near schools on the outskirts of Honiara when the quake sent the children running.
“The earthquake rocked the place,” he said. “It was a huge one. We were all shocked, and everyone is running everywhere.”
The quake’s epicenter was in the ocean about 35 miles southwest of Honiara at a depth of 8 miles, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
The PTWC initially warned of possible hazardous waves for the region but later downgraded a tsunami warning as the threat passed.
The Solomon Islands sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, a arc along the Pacific Ocean rim where many volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur.