Photo / USGS
A magnitude 7.9 earthquake has struck between the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea, however there is no tsunami warning for New Zealand.
An alert from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) says widespread hazardous tsunami waves are possible for parts of the Pacific.
Areas issued tsunami warnings include Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea , Pohnpei , Vanuatu , Chuuk, Indonesia, Nauru and Kosrae.
Initial reports suggest the earthquake struck at a depth of 154km.
The quake was initially recorded at 8.0M.
Geoscience Australia says a tsunami has now reached the Solomon Islands.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre says waves up to three metres above the high tide line are possible along some coasts of Solomon Islands, and up to one metre in Papua New Guinea.
Other Pacific nations at risk of waves include Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia and Tuvalu
people in Honiara are now starting to head home, and those with businesses are checking out their properties for damage.
She says there needs to be a better system for civil defence officials to communicate with residents – radio services were still playing automated music at that time of the morning and she only knew about the tsunami risk from the internet.
New Zealand Civil Defence says the potential threat for marine and beach areas has been cancelled.
Makira province police acting operating manager John Smith has told Morning Report he felt the quake quite strongly.
Because it was still quiet dark, many people panicked he says.
People were remaining in the hills and were quite safe there, he says.
RNZ International’s Solomon Islands correspondent Dorothy Wickham says there was huge panic at the National Referral Hospital in Honiara when the quake struck at about 4.30am local time.
Nurses at the hospital say the power went out and patients and their relatives were running around.
Many Honiara residents ran for the back hills when the earthquake struck, Dorothry Wickham says.
Police at Kirakira in the Makira province have reported that as of 6am local time (8am NZT) no major damage has been reported.
However, some leaf-thatched houses collapsed.
There are widespread tsunami warnings across the Pacific, including for Papua New Guinea, areas around the Solomon Islands and French Polynesia. A tsunami watch for American Samoa has just been lifted.
GNS science duty seismologist Geoff Kilgour said the quake was about 40km below the surface.
It appeared to be a reverse fault, where the land was pushed up, which was why tsunami waves in the Pacific may be generated.
“Its very early at this stage to talk about the magnitude of the tsunami,” he told Morning Report.