A powerful earthquake off the Solomon Islands generated a tsunami of about 5 feet that damaged dozens of homes in the South Pacific island chain on Wednesday, but authorities cancelled warnings for tsunamis on more distant coasts.

Five people have been reported dead after a magnitude 8.0 earthquake struck off the Solomon Islands in the Pacific Ocean on Wednesday. Those who died were residents of Lata district of the Santa Cruz Islands, according to a Solomon Islands police official.

Solomons officials reported two 4 foot, 11-inch waves hit the western side of Santa Cruz Island, damaging around 50 homes and properties, said George Herming, a spokesman for the Prime Minister.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said a tsunami of about 3 feet was measured in Lata wharf, in the Solomon Islands. The centre said an 11-centimetre wave was observed in neighbouring Vanuatu.

The centre cancelled earlier warnings for tsunami waves further away. The tsunami warning is in effect for the Solomons, Vanuatu, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu, New Caledonia, Kosrae, Fiji, Kiribati, Wallis and Futuna. A tsunami watch is in effect for American Samoa, Australia, New Zealand and eastern Indonesia.

The US Geological Survey said the quake struck 81 kilometres west of Lata, at a depth of 5.8 kilometres.

More than 50 people were killed and thousands lost their homes in April 2007 when a magnitude-8.1 quake hit the western Solomon Islands, sending waves crashing into coastal villages.

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