Quake and tsunami kill 13; countless are missing
UPDATE: Aid agencies are attempting to get supplies to the stranded islanders, many of whom are huddled together in higher elevations. After shocks are still a regular occurrence. The BBC has a great first-person narrative on the events. Latest reports put the dead at 28.
UNICEF and other aid agencies are attempting to get onto the Solomon Islands in order to help those people who might be stranded or in need of assistance. The number of people requiring help and their locations remain unknown at this point because communication has been compromised by the tsunami.
National police spokesman Mick Spinks said "our biggest problem is communications, because most of the high frequency radio system there was submerged."
Gizo resident Judith Kennedy said water "right up to your head" swept through the town.
"All the houses near the sea were flattened," she told The Associated Press by telephone. "The downtown area is a very big mess from the tsunami and the earthquake," she added. "A lot of houses have collapsed. The whole town is still shaking" from aftershocks.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake measured magnitude-8.0 and struck at 7:39 a.m. about 6 miles beneath the sea floor, 217 miles northwest of the capital, Honiara.
The Pacific region from Australia to Hawaii went on high alert for several hours after the quake struck between the islands of Bougainville and New Georgia.
Gizo, a regional center, is just 25 miles from the earthquake's epicenter.