SYDNEY (AP) — At least four people are missing and presumed dead after a powerful earthquake off the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific generated a tsunami up to five feet tall.
It damaged dozens of homes in the island chain.
One of the people presumed dead was fishing in a dugout canoe when the first wave hit, sweeping him out to sea. A woman was believed to have drowned when the water rushed into her village.
Officials say four villages in the island of Santa Cruz were hit by the waves, with two of them suffering severe damage. A spokesman for the prime minister says between 70 and 80 homes and other properties were damaged there.
Many of the villagers had fled to higher ground as a precaution before the tsunami hit.
The quake -- with a magnitude 8.0 -- has been followed by dozens of aftershocks.
Disaster officials have been struggling to reach the remote area. The tsunami flooded the airstrip at the nearest airport, leaving it littered with debris.
149-a-05-(unidentified man on the beach, in interview)-"on the beaches"-This beach-goer says he was surprised authorities didn't warn people of a local tsunami threat following an earthquake which generated a tsunami in the Solomon Islands. COURTESY: TVNZ ((mandatory on-air credit)) (6 Feb 2013)
<<CUT *149 (02/06/13)>> 00:05 "on the beaches"
062-a-15-(Dale Grant, geophysicist ,U.S.Geological Survey, in AP interview)-"more active areas"-Dale Grant with the U.S. Geological Survey says it's not unusual for there to be earthquakes in this part of the Pacific. (6 Feb 2013)
<<CUT *062 (02/06/13)>> 00:15 "more active areas"
GRAPHICSBANK: SOLOMON ISLANDS map, highlighted with earthquake epicenter, partial graphic (6 Feb 2013)
APPHOTO LON113: Toppled power lines lay in pools of water following a Tsunami Wednesday Feb. 6, 2013, in Venga, Temotu province, Solomon Islands. The damage seen is part the survey by the assessment crew of the aid organisation World Vision. Solomon Islands authorities say at least four people are missing and presumed dead after an earthquake triggered a tsunami. Waves of up to 5 feet hit the western side of Santa Cruz Island and damaged up to 80 properties. Dozens of aftershocks have followed. Other tsunami warnings are canceled. (AP Photo / World Vision) (6 Feb 2013)
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APPHOTO NY113: In a photo provided by Work Vision, a school is heavily damaged in the area of Lata, Temotu province, Solomon Islands after a powerful earthquake off the Solomon Islands on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013 generated a tsunami of up to 1.5 meters (about 5 feet) that damaged dozens of homes and left at least four people missing and presumed dead in the South Pacific island chain. (AP Photo/World Vision) (6 Feb 2013)
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