By 3 News online staff with NZN
Media reports suggest five people have died in the Santa Cruz Islands, part of the Solomon Islands, following a tsunami caused by a magnitude-8.0 earthquake.
At least five people are dead and three injured, reports Agence France Presse (AFP).
"One of the dead was a male child, three were elderly women and one an elderly man," Chris Rogers, a nurse at Lata Hospital in the Santa Cruz Islands, told AFP
It remains unclear if it was the quake or the ensuing tsunami which caused the casualties, but major damage has been caused to three villages on Santa Cruz Island.
Earlier this evening World Vision staff in the Solomon Islands said the likelihood of casualties following the tsunami would be high.
Jared Berends, operations manager for World Vision in the Solomon Islands, said four communities on the Santa Cruz headland, and near the airport, have borne the brunt of the tsunami. There are reports of up to 100 homes being destroyed.
New Zealand potential tsunami threat alert cancelled, minor threat remains
A tsunami potential threat warning issued by the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management (MCDEM) in New Zealand following the earthquake in the Solomon Islands has now been cancelled.
Earlier the alert was confined to the west coasts from Taranaki to Milford Sound, and in a statement MCDEM says a minor threat will still remain in these areas for the next 24 hours.
Unusual water conditions such as local tidal surges and strong currents may be experienced, especially in the early hours of tomorrow morning.
People should exercise caution and discretion before entering the water or going out in small boats.
New Zealand Civil Defence issued an upgraded tsunami threat at 5.20pm today, warning people to stay off the beach and off coastal waters due to the possible marine threat of a tsunami of between 0.2m and 0.9m.
The warning initially applied to the entire west coast of both the North and South islands, as well as the eastern coast stretching from Northland to Gisborne and the southern coast of the South Island and around to Dunedin.
But after further scientific analysis, Civil Defence said the tsunami heights are likely to be at their highest from Taranaki to Milford Sound.
"If there's boating activities, people who are swimming, and particularly people in estuaries and restricted harbours, they could experience stronger currents and tidal activity which could be a danger to them," Civil Defence director John Hamilton said.
Civil Defence says historical experience and modelling experience suggest that the largest waves will be about two to eight hours after the first waves arrive.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Hawaii cancelled tsunami warnings and alerts for much of the Pacific Islands before 6pm.