Quake sparks tsunami off Pacific, 5 dead

A major 8.0 magnitude earthquake jolted the Solomon Islands Wednesday with small tsunami waves buffeting Pacific coastlines, leaving at least five people dead and dozens of homes damaged or destroyed.

"We can report five dead and three injured. One of the dead was a male child, three were elderly women and one an elderly man," Chris Rogers, a nurse at Lata Hospital in the Santa Cruz Islands, said.

Solomons Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo's office said four villages on the Santa Cruz Islands had been hit.

"Latest reports suggest that between 60 to 70 homes have been damaged by waves crashing into at least four villages on Santa Cruz Islands," Lilo's spokesman George Herming said. "At this stage, authorities are still trying to establish the exact number and extent of damage. Communication to (the) Santa Cruz Islands is difficult due to the remoteness of the islands."

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center cancelled its regional alert for Pacific-island nations at 0350 GMT, about two and a half hours after the powerful quake struck at 0112 GMT near the Santa Cruz Islands in the Solomons.

Japan was also on edge with the national weather agency warning that a small tsunami could come ashore.

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