Buildings were left damaged and widespread power outages reported in the Solomons Island capital, Honiara, after two earthquakes struck just off the south-west coast on Tuesday.
The first magnitude 7.0 earthquake briefly triggered a tsunami warning from the United States Geological Survey, but this warning was withdrawn soon after.
A second quake, with a magnitude of 6.0, struck nearby 30 minutes later.
Power was out in some areas of Honiara and Solomon Islands Broadcasting said in a statement that all radio services were off air.
The Australian prime minister, Anthony Albanese, said the roof of the Australian high commission annexe in Honiara had collapsed, “which points to likely damage throughout the city”.
“We have contacted prime minister Sogavare to once again indicate Australia stands ready to assist.”
Albanese said all staff of the Australian high commission were safe, but confirming the safety of all Australians in Solomon Islands was difficult because telecommunications had been disrupted.
The quake near Malango was shallow, with a depth of 10km, the USGS said.
People reported violent shaking that threw televisions and other items to the ground.
Freelance journalist Charley Piringi said he was standing outside a warehouse next to a primary and a secondary school on the outskirts of the capital, Honiara, when the quake struck, sending the children running.
“The earthquake rocked the place,” he said. “It was a huge one. We were all shocked, and everyone is running everywhere.”
The nation’s attorney general, John Muria, posted images on social media of office files spilled from large metal filing cabinets.
“This was a big one,” Joy Nisha, a receptionist at the Heritage Park Hotel in Honiara, told the AFP news agency. “Some of the things in the hotel fell. Everyone seems OK, but panicky.”
An AFP reporter in the capital said the shaking lasted for about 20 seconds.
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN/PACNEWS