Tsunami warning lifted after massive 7.7 earthquake hits Solomon Islands

New Delhi, Delhi, IndiaUpdated: Dec 09, 2016, 05:06 AM IST

The earthquake was at first?reported to be of magnitude 8. (In photo) Honiara, Guadalcanal Island in the Solomon Islands. Photograph:(Getty)

A massive earthquake with a magnitude of 7.7 hit off the Solomon Islands on Thursday, the US Geological Survey said. There were no initial reports of casualties.

It struck at 4:38 am (1738 GMT Thursday) at a depth of 49 km (30 miles), the USGS said.

An initial tsunami warning in the region has been lifted.

The earthquake was at first reported to be of magnitude 8.0.

"Hazardous tsunami waves from this earthquake are possible within the next three hours along some coasts of Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Nauru, New Caledonia, Tuvalu and Kosrae," the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre had said earlier,

A tsunami warning for Hawaii was also lifted.

Solomon Islands National Disaster Management Office director Loti Yates told Reuters he had received reports of collapsed buildings in villages in Makira, the island closest to the epicentre of the massive undersea quake.

Around 50,000 people are reported to be living in the Makira Province

"Villages that we have made contact with have evacuated, actually most of the communities that we have spoken with had already evacuated," Yates told Reuters. "They called us from the hills, which is good."

Yates said he had not received any reports of deaths. 

John Pirimare, a resident on Nafinua Island, spoke to Reuters from up the hills where he evacuated immediately after the quake with around 500 to 600 villagers after they received the tsunami warning on their phones.

"It was a great shock but no serious damage," Pirimare said. "Most of the people went straight here; and we won't leave until the tsunami threat has passed."

Yates told Reuters that the authorities in the Solomons would start to assess the damage as morning dawned.

Australia said there was no risk to its coastlines. New Zealand cancelled a marine and beach threat warning.

(WION with inputs from Reuters)