Earthquake and Tsunami in SI, April 2, 2007

Time: 7:40am Solomon Islands time

  • An earthquake measuring 8.1 on the Richter scale occurred approximately 10km below sea level approximately 45km SSE of Gizo.
  • The Pelena Express vessel, Namita Rose, was near Ringi on its way to Noro to collect passengers for the daily return ferry service to Gizo.
  • Nixon and the crew described the trees along the shoreline shaking and the coconuts falling.
  • Technical details of the earthquake can be found at Solomon Island earthquake and tsunami 2nd April 2007

Time: 8:31am Solomon Islands time

  • Vessel location: Noro
  • Nixon Silas — the skipper and owner of Pelena Express — phoned Peter Lynch of Pelena Energy (Australia) to advise of earthquake. The on-board satellite phone was used to call Australia.
  • Nixon reported that many wharves in Noro had been destroyed and there were many drums and debris floating in the sea. The water level was very high — possibly 5 metres. There were many currents moving the boat with “swirling water”.
  • The vessel travelled to Vavanga Village to check on Nixon’s family — about 40km from Noro — dropping off people on the way and providing assistance where possible.
  • Upon arrival, the water was still high. Many houses have been damaged; including his mother’s which has been “flattened”. The underneath area of his house has also been damaged.
  • Nixon’s wife and business partner, Mareta, and their children Jordi, Luci, Namita are OK.
  • I do not know if the damage at Vavanga was primarily due to the earthquake or the water level increase. Therefore, I don’t know if people had a chance to flee their houses before the water rose. I have proposed that the water may rush out as quickly as it rushed in, leaving normally submerged areas dry. I think they’ll keep the boat in deeper water. I believe the water rose quickly, but not like a wave. Nixon said all the islands were “sinking”, which suggests to me not a violent wave.
  • Reports to Nixon by local 2-way radio indicate there has been substantial damage in Gizo, and the water also remains high.
  • Reports by the Australian media have been primarily out of Honiara. Emergency services have been mobilised.
  • The services of the boat, Namita Rose, have been made available by Nixon. I have passed this on to the various emergency services through RAMSI, Participating Police Force, SI Police Force, Emergency Response authorities, the Aust Council for International Development (ACFID), and Peter Lynch’s local federal MP, Mr Luke Hartsuyker. It is ideally suited to such emergency work because it has no under-boat propeller and can access shallow areas.

Time: 6:00pm Solomon Islands time

  • Vessel location: Ringi
  • Latest news from Nixon in Solomon Islands:
  • Many houses flattened in his village, including his mother’s and brother’s
  • No reported casualties in Vavanga
  • Nixon’s house substantially damaged, with water inundating floor level. (Pelena Express' office and store and PRESI’s office and store destroyed)
  • Main damage in the area of Kolombangara and Noro appears to have been from the earthquake, with water inundation a secondary effect. Gizo town appears to have suffered more from quake and wave damage (unconfirmed) with the local airport (Nusatupe) being swamped. Flights to Gizo have been cancelled
  • Nixon presently at Vavanga attending to family
  • This afternoon, boat is in the hands of Eddie (2nd skipper) at Ringi. The boat’s been assisting to relocate people from the lower islands of Vona Vona Lagoon to Kolombangara
  • At 2pm (Solomon Time) today the seas were still about 1m above normal height
  • The boat is ready for emergency work if required. Emergency services have been notified through RAMSI & Aust Council for International Development here in Australia
  • Nixon was interviewed this morning by James Carlton of Radio Australia. This interview can be found by following the “Related Audio” link on the following page:

Monday, April 2, 2007

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Last updated Monday, April 2, 2007