A powerful 6.8-magnitude earthquake struck near the Solomon Islands in the western Pacific on Sunday, the US Geological Survey said, but there was no tsunami alert or reports of damage.

The quake struck at a depth of about 60 kilometres (37 miles) with an epicentre 102 kilometres southwest of Kira Kira on Makira Island at 8:40 pm (0940 GMT) the USGS said.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was no destructive widespread tsunami threat but added in a bulletin: "Earthquakes of this size sometimes generate local tsunamis that can be destructive along coasts located within 100 kilometres of the earthquake epicentre.

"Authorities in the region of the epicentre should be aware of this possibility and take action."

The quake had initially been measured at magnitude 7.1 but was later revised down.
Like much of the Pacific, the Solomons regularly experiences earthquakes.

A string of tremors rocked the western Solomon Islands in January, with the largest of 7.2 causing a tsunami estimated at eight feet (nearly 2.5 metres).

Around 1,000 people -- almost a third of the population -- are believed to have been left homeless on Rendova island due to earthquake and tsunami damage.

In April 2007, an 8.0-magnitude earthquake in the western Solomons triggered a tsunami that killed more than 50 people and displaced thousands. Gizo harbour lost most of its wharves and jetties in the quake and subsequent tsunami.

In September last year, a devastating tsunami swept along coasts in the Pacific islands of Samoa and Tonga, killing 186 people and wiping out entire villages.
Villages and resorts in Samoa, American Samoa and northern Tonga were flattened by the giant waves generated by the massive earthquake, the strongest in nearly a century.

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