Strong quakes hit Solomon Islands

Reuters (Link) - Rob Taylor (January 3, 2010)

Two strong earthquakes hit near the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific on Monday, triggering a small local tsunami with some reports of damage, police said.

The magnitude 7.2 and 6.5 quakes struck close together around 9:48 p.m. EST and occurred around 55 miles south-southeast of the small island of Gizo, the U.S. Geological Survey and Pacific Tsunami Warning Centers said.

�There are no reports of casualties, but we have unconfirmed reports of property damage caused by possible tsunami waves on Tetepare island,� Gizo police constable Macarthur Pania told Reuters.

The quakes occurred at depths of between 33 km (20.5 miles) and 36 km.

�Sea level readings indicate a tsunami was generated,� said the Hawaii-based tsunami center in an emailed bulletin. �It may have been destructive along coasts near the earthquake epicenter.�

The warning center said there was no wider tsunami threat to Pacific coastlines.

A large 8.1 magnitude quake and subsequent tsunami struck Gizo in 2007, killing 52 people and leaving thousands homeless. The Solomons are part of the Pacific �Ring of Fire,� where colliding continental plates frequently causes seismic activity.