Strong earthquake shakes Solomon Islands and drives people to flee ” Alaska

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — A powerful 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck the Solomon Islands on Tuesday afternoon, knocking over tables and sending people to higher ground.

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — A powerful 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck the Solomon Islands on Tuesday afternoon, knocking over tables and sending people to higher ground.

There were no immediate reports of widespread damage or injuries, although Australia’s Prime Minister said a roof at his High Commission had collapsed. An initial tsunami warning was withdrawn after the threat passed.

Solomon Islands government spokesman George Herming said he was in his office on the second floor of a building in the capital Honiara when the quake struck the city. He said he crawled under his desk.

“It’s a huge thing that shocked everyone,” Herming said.

“We have tables and desks, books and everything that is scattered everywhere as a result of the earthquake, but there is no major damage to structures or buildings,” he said.

Herming said the Solomon Islands, which is home to about 700,000 people, has no large high-rise buildings that could be vulnerable to an earthquake. He said there was panic and traffic jams in the city as everyone tried to drive to higher ground.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said all staff at Australia’s High Commission are safe.

“No injuries are known, but the roof of the High Commission annex has collapsed, which would indicate likely damage across the city,” Albanese told parliament.

“Staff were moved to a higher level because a tsunami warning was issued. Our High Commission is trying to confirm the safety of all Australians in the Solomon Islands. There is trouble because the phone lines are down. So there are communication difficulties there,” Albanese added.

Freelance journalist Charley Piringi said he was standing outside near schools on the outskirts of Honiara as the quake got children running.

“The earthquake shook the place,” he said. “It was a huge one. We were all shocked and everyone is running everywhere.”

The quake’s epicenter was about 56 kilometers (35 miles) southwest of Honiara at a depth of 13 kilometers (8 miles), according to the US Geological Survey.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center initially issued a warning of potentially dangerous waves for the region, but later downgraded a tsunami warning when the threat passed.

The Solomon Islands lie on the Pacific Ring of Fire, an arc at the edge of the Pacific Ocean where many volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur.

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Associated Press reporter Rod McGuirk in Canberra, Australia contributed to this report.

Nick Perry, The Associated Press

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