Quake strikes near Solomon Islands
About 500 homes have been destroyed or damaged by a powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake that rocked the Solomon Islands, causing panic but no major injuries, disaster officials say. The National Disaster Management Office said it was possible that thousands of people could be homeless, but an exact assessment could not be made until ground parties were able to reach remote islands today. The US Geological Survey said the epicentre was 103km from the earthquake-prone island town of Gizo in the western Pacific archipelago, and local officials said it triggered a small tsunami. It was the largest of a swarm of tremors centred on the area, ignited by a 6.5 magnitude quake on Monday morning and with eight strong aftershocks between magnitude 4.9 and 5.7 over the following 12 hours.