Strong 6.6 quake rattles Solomon Islands

A strong 6.6-magnitude earthquake on Monday struck the Santa Cruz islands, part of the Pacific's Solomons group, the USGS said, but there was no threat of a widespread tsunami, according to officials.

The quake hit at a depth of 38 kilometres around 3 pm (0400 GMT) some 350 kilometres east of Kirakira, the main city of the Solomons' major island, Makira.

The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was "no destructive widespread tsunami threat" based on historical data.

"However, earthquakes of this size sometimes generate local tsunamis that can be destructive along coasts located within a hundred kilometres of the earthquake epicentre," it added.

"Authorities in the region of the epicentre should be aware of this possibility and take appropriate action."

Clive Collins, a seismologist at Geoscience Australia, said the undersea tremor would have been felt strongly on the nearest islands, which are quite remote, but would not cause serious damage.

"It's not all that deep but it's not right at the surface and 6.6, I think the nearest island is about 70 or 80 kilometres away so they'll get a bit of a shake if there's a town or village or something on them, but I don't expect any real damage," Collins said.

"It's probably quite deep ocean there so I don't think there's any chance of a tsunami threat from that, normally that size earthquake wouldn't produce a tsunami."

The Solomon Islands is on a tectonic plate margin in the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire and frequently sees earthquakes.

In 2007 a tsunami following an 8.1-magnitude earthquake killed at least 52 people in the Solomon Islands and left thousands homeless.

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