A tsunami warning has been issued for areas in the south western portion of the Pacific Ocean after a magnitude 8 earthquake struck near the Solomon Islands.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, an 8.0 earthquake hit Santa Cruz Island at 1:12 a.m. local time. Approximately 10 minutes later, a 6.4 quake was also registered on the island. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued the tsunami warning at 1:18 a.m. local time. The warning is in effect for the following areas:
Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu, New Caledonia, Kosrae, Fiji, Kiribati, and Wallis and Futuna islands.
A tsunami watch has been issued for Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia.
Although no tsunami has been spotted as of yet, the warning was issued due to the severity and location of the earthquakes.
Digital Journal will continue to monitor the situation and update the story as details become available.
UPDATE 10:21 p.m. EST:
A tsunami approximately 5 feet in height (1.5 meters) has damaged an estimated 50 homes in the Solomon Islands. Currently there are no reports of injuries or deaths associated with the Tsunami or earthquakes.
George Herming, a spokesman for the Soloman Islands' prime minister office, told the Associated Press"People are still standing on the hills outside of Honiara just looking out over the water, trying to observe if there is a wave coming in."
According to the BBC, France also issued a tsunami warning, telling residents of the New Caledonia territory a wave could hit the area about 03:00 GMT. Coastal residents have been advised to evacuate.
The tsunami warning issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center was cancelled at 03:47 local time.
UPDATE 5:35 a.m. EST
An estimated 100 or more homes in Lata have been destroyed by tsunami waves and electricity is also out. Lata is the capital of the Temoto Province of the Solomon Islands. According to the New York Times, Government officials have unconfirmed reports that crew members aboard area fishing boats were tossed from their vessels and swept out to sea.
The tsunami wave had originally been reported as 5 feet in height. It is now estimated to have been approximately 3 feet high.
NBC News states that at least five people have been confirmed killed by the tsunami.