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South Pacific Tsunami Leaves at Least Five Dead

The Atlantic

This morning's 8.0-magnitude earthquake in the South Pacific generated a three-foot tsunami which struck the Santa Cruz Islands—a remote part of the Solomon Islands— killing four elderly people and one child. Reports of the damage are still coming in and officials in the area say that death toll could still rise, particularly on the smaller, more remote islands. However, all the tsunami warnings across the Pacific have since been canceled.

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"A tsunami measuring 0.9 metres (three feet) hit near the town of Lata on the remote Santa Cruz island, swamping some villages and the town's main airport as people fled to safety on higher ground," reports Reuters. Three-foot sounds a bit small, but you have to remember that tsunami waves are different than ordinary waves and a three-foot tsunami, according to Gerard Fryer a Senior Geophysicist at NOAA's Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, is more like a three-foot rise in sea level than it is ordinary surf, which means it could be very dangerous on the low-lying islands.

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At least 100 homes were destroyed in the community of Lata according to The New York Times's Suzanna McFadden and Gerry Mullany. Augustine Plive, a hospital director in that town of Lata said more casualties were possible, and officials in the area were still surveying the surrounding villages, Reuters reports.