A powerful 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit the Solomon Islands on Tuesday, according to the USGS, with witnesses speaking of tremors that tossed televisions and other objects to the ground. The USGS has revised the magnitude of the earthquake to 7, after having initially announced 7.3. The earthquake occurred at a depth of 13 km at 1:03 p.m. local time (3:03 a.m. in Switzerland).
A tsunami warning has been issued for an area of about 300 km around the epicenter of the earthquake, located 55 km from the capital Honiara. But the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) later said the threat was “largely” averted.
“Aftershocks are expected so people should remain vigilant around buildings and tall structures due to the (power) of the earthquake,” warned David Hiba Hiriasia, director of the Solomon Islands Meteorological Service. .
“The building was really violently shaken”
“It was a big” earthquake, Joy Nisha, receptionist at the Heritage Park hotel in Honiara, told AFP, adding: “Some items in the hotel fell. Everyone seems fine, but panicked.”
An AFP journalist in the capital said the tremor lasted about 20 seconds. Electricity was cut in certain parts of the city and people left their offices to take refuge in height.
“I was really scared because it was the first time I felt this kind of earthquake,” said a manager of the Pacific Casino Hotel in Honiara, who requested anonymity. “The building really shook violently,” she described. “It was really strong, it made you move from side to side.”
Dozens of customers and staff fled the building into a parking lot, hoping not to be hit by debris as they exited. Solomon Islands Justice Minister John Muria posted images on social media showing documents strewn across an office, pulled out of storage.