Tsunami Warning Up in Philippines, NZ, Other Nations in South Pacific

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | February 6, 2013 3:43 PM EST

Nations in the South Pacific, including the Philippines and New Zealand, have been advised by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre (PTWC) to brace for a possible tsunami occurrence following the powerful 8.0 magnitude earthquake that struck off the Solomon Islands on Wednesday.

The nations given advise of the tsunami warning included the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu, New Caledonia, Kosrae, Fiji, Kiribati, and Wallis and Futuna Islands.

A tsunami watch was issued for Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Samoa, New Caledonia, Tonga and Guam.

Residents living in the provinces along the Philippines' Pacific coast, such as Batanes, Cagayan, Ilocos Norte, Isabela, Quezon, Aurora, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Albay, Catanduanes, Sorsogon, Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Davao Oriental and Davao del Sur, were told to keep watch and "wait for further information and to prepare for possible evacuation" in case of a tsunami.

"The areas that are closest to the earthquake would be the Santa Cruz Islands, but above those the Solomons and Vanuatu are the next closest island groups," Nathan Becker from the PTWC said.

"People in those areas should definitely be clearing the beaches and moving to higher ground."

A wave measuring 90 centimetres had been recorded at Lata, according to Australia's earthquake monitoring agency and the Pacific centre.

"We know that a tsunami has been created,'' David Jepsen, Geoscience Australia seismologist, said.

"It's a big earthquake anyway in terms of just the shaking,'' he added, noting bigger waves could hit elsewhere depending on the quake's location.

According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), the quake struck at 12.12pm (AEDT) at a depth of 5.6km at the Santa Cruz Islands between the Solomons and Vanuatu.

But the Australian Bureau of Meteorology assured Aussie folks the country was not at risk from the possible tsunami, Reuters reported.

As of presstime, no immediate report of damages or any accidents have been gathered from Solomon Islands, according to George Herming, a spokesman for the prime minister of the Solomon Islands.

"We've been hoping that reports will come in from the responsible authorities ... very soon," he said.

However, a hospital director said the quake had destroyed some villages.

"The information we are getting is that some villages west and south of Lata along the coast have been destroyed, although we cannot confirm this yet," The Australian quoted the director at Lata Hospital on the main Santa Cruz island of Ndende as saying.

The quake's epicentre was 580 kilometres away from Honiara, the Solomons' capital.

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