Fifteen minutes later, an additional eight earthquakes of slightly smaller magnitude triggered a localised tsunami.
Several islands in the Solomons chain suffered both quake and tsunami damage (in particular to low-lying seaside areas).
In Gizo Town, the provincial capital, the local Solomon Islands Red Cross said that at least 13 people had been reported dead on Gizo. Around 2,000 people (about 10% of the population) were made homeless, and there has been widespread damage to infrastructure. Initial reports indicate similar, or worse, levels of damage in other areas.
Red Cross responds
Trained volunteers and staff from Red Cross responded to the disaster immediately, carrying out assessments and distributing relief supplies to survivors.
Funding has been released from the International Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund to support the immediate response. The initial focus is on assessing the damage, and purchasing and shipping relief supplies. The local Red Cross states that fresh water is in short supply in some areas, while temporary, localised food shortages have also been reported.
Some of the affected areas are very isolated and can only be reached by boat. Gizo's airfield is reportedly still functioning but debris needed to be cleared from the runway before it became fully operational
The local Red Cross has a small warehouse in Gizo which was still intact following the tsunami. All emergency supplies stored there -- including hurricane lamps and cooking sets -- have been distributed to affected people and the Solomons Red Cross headquarters in Honiara has sent additional supplies to Gizo via a Solomon Islands Government patrol boat.
The Solomon Islands Red Cross is the only humanitarian organisation in the country's western provinces that has the capacity to simultaneously carry out detailed assessments and distribute relief assistance.
Red Cross branches in the region have pre-positioned satellite phones in case of emergencies such as this. Red Cross staff in Gizo has been using the system to relay information to the regional Red Cross office in Suva, which is coordinating the response.