Small tsunami hits Solomon Islands after powerful 8.0 earthquake in South Pacific

No tsunami for Alaska, Hawaii or West Coast

SYDNEY - A tsunami generated by a powerful undersea earthquake off the Solomon Islands has damaged dozens of homes in that South Pacific island chain. 

The U.S. Geological Survey says a magnitude-8.0 undersea earthquake struck near the Solomon Islands on Wednesday local time. The Solomons comprise more than 200 islands in the so-called "Ring of Fire" where about 90 percent of the world's quakes occur. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center says tsunami warnings for elsewhere have been canceled. 

When the quake struck, San Diego doctor Eileen Natuzzi started emailing her friends in the Solomon Islands. It is a place she knows well. She said she was there just weeks ago.

Natuzzi trains doctors in what she calls a very remote area.

"The infrastructure there is minimal, so electricity is going to be spotty," she said. "Getting broadband digital images out will be difficult at this point in time."

Photos showing villagers evacuating alongside long lines of cars and students walking in front of buildings that seem to be intact are the only images that have surfaced online so far.

"These are single-story buildings, usually constructed of wood, so the crushing injuries that would happen from collapsing buildings tend to be much less and tend to be pretty rare," said Natuzzi.

The real threat is a tsunami, which was the case after an 8.1 quake in the Solomon Islands in 2007. Fifty-two people were killed and 13 villages were wiped out when a massive surge poured onto the coasts.

Thousands of people were left homeless and medical care became a desperate need. Natuzzi said she is prepared for the same.

"We'll see," she said. "If the need is there, we'll go."

The National Weather Service says there is no threat of a tsunami in Hawaii, Alaska or the U.S. West Coast after a powerful earthquake struck in the South Pacific. 

The warning center says some areas of the West Coast may see changes in sea levels but it would not be damaging.

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