Strong 6.6 quake hits Solomon Islands

Solomon quake

A strong 6.6-magnitude tremor struck the Solomon Islands today, the latest in a series of aftershocks from a powerful earthquake that triggered a tsunami which killed at least nine people, seismologists said.

The quake hit 36 kilometres (23 miles) south-southwest of Lata, the main town on the remote island of Ndende, at 5.59 AM (1859 GMT yesterday/0029 IST today), the US Geological Survey said.

No tsunami warning was issued and there was a low likelihood of casualties and damage, the USGS estimated.

The aftershock has hampered relief efforts to tsunami-ravaged villages and forced the South Pacific nation's prime minister to forgo a visit to the stricken area. The aftershock also damaged roads on the island's main town of Lata and prevented aid workers already stationed there from reaching people on the coast.

A powerful 8.0-magnitude quake on Wednesday generated a wave that swamped coastal communities on Ndende island, in the eastern Solomons, and triggered warnings of a more widespread tsunami that was later lifted.

At least nine people were confirmed dead and some 3,000 left homeless but the national disaster management office has been struggling to get a clear picture of the scale of destruction on the island, more than 600 kilometres (370 miles) from the capital Honiara.

Both Australia and New Zealand have said they are ready to provide assistance to their northern neighbour.

In 2007 a tsunami following an 8.0-magnitude earthquake killed at least 52 people in the Solomons and left thousands homeless. The quake lifted an entire island and pushed out its shoreline by dozens of metres.

The Solomons are part of the "Ring of Fire", a zone of tectonic activity around the Pacific that is subject to frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

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