Earthquake, Tsunami Strike Solomon Islands

Bad news from the South Pacific today: The Wall Street Journal and other sources are reporting that a major earthquake triggered a tsunami that destroyed villages and killed at least five people in the Solomon Islands on Wednesday, according to government and hospital officials.

A wave measuring three feet reached the island chain after the quake hit around midday local time, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said. The magnitude-8 quake, with a depth of 17.8 miles, was centered about 220 miles east of the Santa Cruz Islands, part of the Solomon Islands nation, according to a bulletin issued by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Among the affected areas has been the provincial capital of Lata, a city of about 2,300 in Temotu Province where hospital patients were evacuated to higher ground. CNN is reporting that the waves caused damage and disruption at the local airport and nearby villages.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center initially issued a tsunami warning for several countries in the area, including Papua New Guinea and Fiji. But the center later canceled the alert after reassessing the relevant data. It also called off a tsunami watch it had sent out for a larger number of countries in the region such as New Zealand, Australia and Indonesia.