7.2 magnitude earthquake strikes near Solomon Islands

The US Geological Survey said the quake struck about 103 kilometres from the island town of Gizo at about 9:36 am (2236 GMT Sunday) and was measured at a depth of about 30 kilometres (19 miles).

No tsunami alert was issued but the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said quakes of this size could create local tsunamis "that can be destructive along coasts located within a few hundred kilometres of the earthquake epicentre."

It came less than an hour after a 6.5 magnitude earthquake struck near the archipelago at 8:48 am. USGS said the epicentre of the first quake was 143 kilometres south-southeast of Gizo, which is the second largest town in the Solomon Islands with a population of around 6,000.

"It's a big earthquake but it's probably not going to cause a large regional tsunami," Geoscience Australia seismologist Clive Collins said.

"It has potential there for a (local) tsunami but we haven't heard of anything as yet. I don't think there's any problem but we don't any information as yet," he told AFP.

Collins said the quake, which was estimated at 7.0 magnitude by Australian seismologists, was probably about 80 kilometres from the nearest land, but not the Solomons' main island where the capital Honiara is located.

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