Source AP ©

Powerful quake triggers tsunami in Solomon Islands; 8 killed, toll expected to rise

Huge waves churned by a massive earthquake crashed ashore in the Solomon Islands on Monday, wiping away entire villages and triggering a tsunami emergency from Australia to Hawaii. At least eight people were reported killed, and the toll was expected to rise.

Julian Makaa, spokesman for the Solomons National Disaster Management Office, said numerous villages in the country's remote west were reporting people being swept away as waves plowed through their communities.

Reports remained sketchy because communications were reduced in many cases to scratchy two-way radio lines, but the total of deaths reported so far was eight, Makaa told The Associated Press.

"We have eight deaths reported so far," he said. "I believe we will get some more reports of people dying."

The Pacific region, from Australia to Hawaii, went on high alert for several hours after the magnitude-8 quake struck between the islands of Bougainville and New Georgia, with beaches closed more than 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles) away.

But the region-wide warnings were downgraded for areas outside the Solomons as the danger period passed.

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