Authorities in helicopters flew over remote coastlines in the Solomon Islands on Tuesday assessing the damage from a large earthquake and tsunami that crashed ashore a day earlier, devastating at least one village.
No injuries were reported some 24 hours after the biggest in a series of quakes churned a tsunami wave that was up to 10 feet (3 meters) high as it plowed into the coast.
Locals said residents were lucky the event happened during the day when many people were awake and able to flee easily, and noted they were better prepared since a deadly tsunami in the region three years ago.
The provincial capital of Gizo was badly damaged in April 2007 when a 8.1-magnitude quake unleashed a tsunami that slammed into the island, killing more than 50 people.
The ``general rule in villages and Gizo'' is that ``if there's anything more than 20 seconds of shaking or any sea water recedes, head for the hills,'' said dive shop owner Danny Kennedy, adding that the tsunami had not reached Gizo this time.
Solomon Islands' police commissioner Peter Marshall said hundreds of villagers had been affected.
``But it would appear that the Solomon Islands has gotten away comparatively lightly,'' with no deaths or injuries reported so far, he told New Zealand's National Radio.
A magnitude-7.2 quake sent a tsunami crashing into the shores of Rendova Island and nearby Tetepare Island about 9:30 a.m. local time Monday. Eight other quakes greater than agnitude 5.0 have rocked the region since.
A police boat and two helicopters patrolled Tuesday to check the coastline, where many homes are at sea level and close to the coast, making them vulnerable to tsunamis, said Julian Makaa, a spokesman for the National Disaster Management Office.
``Two damage assessment teams have been sent to Rendova to walk through and conduct damage surveys, but no casualties have been reported,'' Makaa told The Associated Press.
Another disaster management official, Loti Yates, said earlier at least 16 houses were destroyed and 32 damaged in Baniata village on Rendova, an island some 190 miles (300 kilometers) from the capital Honiara, where some 3,600 people live.
``One report from police was that one village was hit by a 6 to 10 foot (2-3 meter) wall of sea water,'' Yates said. ``It was a total inundation police saw in a flyover.''
Makaa said the village, Retavo, had a population of about 20 and no deaths or injuries were reported yet.
One helicopter was checking the southwest coast of Rendova, where the wave could have caused serious damage, he said.
A government boat arrived in the area Tuesday with emergency food, water and tarpaulins for survivors.
Ten foreign tourists were staying on Tetepare Island, an uninhabited eco-tourism site, and the four Germans, four Britons and two New Zealanders were evacuated.
The U.S. Geological Survey has recorded nine earthquakes greater than magnitude 5.0 in the region since late Sunday. The magnitude 7.2 was centred 64 miles southeast of Gizo, and followed a magnitude 6.5 tremor less than two hours earlier centred 54 miles southeast of Gizo at a depth of 6 miles.
The Solomon Islands lie on the ``Ring of Fire'' _ an arc of earthquake and volcanic zones that stretches around the Pacific Rim and where about 90 percent of the world's quakes occur.