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6 dead, Solomon island villages destroyed by tsunami

| Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013, 9:42 p.m.

SYDNEY — Six bodies, including a child's, have been found in the sodden wreckage left by a tsunami that smashed into villages in the Solomon Islands, flattening dozens of homes in the South Pacific island chain.

The nearly 5-foot waves that roared inland on Wednesday on Santa Cruz Island, in the eastern Solomons, were too fast to outrun for five elderly villagers and one child, who died after being sucked under the rushing water, George Herming, a spokesman for the prime minister, said on Thursday.

Several other people were missing, and dozens of strong aftershocks were keeping frightened villagers from returning to the coast, Herming said.

“People are still scared of going back to their homes because there's nothing left, so they are residing in temporary shelters on higher ground,” Herming said.

The tsunami was generated by a powerful 8.0-magnitude earthquake that struck near the town of Lata, on Santa Cruz in Temotu, the easternmost province in the Solomons. Temotu has a population of about 30,000.

Smaller waves were recorded in Vanuatu and New Caledonia.

The damage appeared to be concentrated to the west side of Santa Cruz, with five villages wiped out, Herming said. Authorities were struggling to reach the remote area but said an estimated 100 homes were damaged.

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