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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Solomon Islands Earthquake causes Tsunami

Tsunami leaves 1,000 homeless on Solomons

Residents’ memories of earlier disasters help prevent casualties

Landslides and a tsunami destroyed the homes of about one-third of the population on a Solomon Island, but lives were likely spared as residents with memories of previous disasters fled quickly to higher ground, officials said Tuesday.

From the air, extensive damage could be seen on a remote western island after a 7.2-magnitude temblor triggered the landslides in the Pacific Solomon Islands on Monday, said disaster management office director Loti Yates.

No injuries have been reported some 30 hours after the biggest in a series of quakes churned a tsunami wave that was up to 10 feet high as it plowed into the coast, officials said.

However, more than 1,000 people have been affected after some 200 houses were destroyed on Rendova, an island some 190 miles from the capital Honiara. Only 3,600 people live on Rendova.

Yates said some 200 households were taking shelter in emergency centers on Rendova.

Photographs taken from police helicopters Tuesday showed debris lining the foreshore and damaged houses on the coasts of Rendova and Tetepare, as well as deep scars on hills and cliffs caused by landslides.

‘Head for the hills’
Hillsides crashed down and the tsunami inundated homes Monday, but residents' memories of earlier disasters probably helped prevent any casualties, officials and residents said.

In April 2007, an 8.1 temblor unleashed a tsunami that killed more than 50 people. A quake-churned tsunami that killed more than 200 on nearby Samoa and Tonga in September was another reminder, locals said.

"People are very sensitive, as a quake conjures up memories and people immediately begin going to higher ground," police commissioner Peter Marshall told The Associated Press.

"The fact it was daylight, the isolated nature of the wave and that the landslides were in a relatively sparsely populated area" also helped, he said.

The largest quake — magnitude 7.2 — happened about 9:30 a.m. local time Monday and caused the tsunami to hit the coast a short time later.

Since then, at least a dozen other quakes greater than magnitude 5.0 have rocked the earthquake-prone region. The strongest, a magnitude 6.9 aftershock, hit the nation's western region again late Tuesday night and generated a tsunami about an inch high, but there were no immediate reports of fresh damage and no reports of injury.

In the provincial capital, Gizo, dive shop owner Danny Kennedy said the general rule is that "if there's anything more than 20 seconds of shaking or any sea water recedes, head for the hills."

A police boat patrolled Tuesday to check the coastline, where many homes are at sea level, making them vulnerable to tsunamis, National Disaster Management Office spokesman Julian Makaa said. No casualties had been reported so far, he said.

One village, Retavo, home to about 20 people, was reportedly completely inundated by a wall of sea water up to 10 feet high, but Makaa said no deaths or injuries had been reported there.

Emergency food, water and tarpaulins were being shipped in.

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.

Source: Associated Press

Google Releases Nexus One Smart Phone


Google said Tuesday that its long-anticipated new smartphone, Nexus One, Tuesday, costs $179 with a two-year service contract.

The Google Nexus One, which runs Google's Android operating system, has a 3.7 inch touchscreen OLED display, with a 1 gigahertz processor from Qualcomm. The Google Nexus One includes a 5 megapixel camera for video and photos and stereo Bluetooth connection for headphones.

The Google Nexus One battery will last for up to seven hours of talk time, or up to five hours of Internet use, on a 3G cellphone network, Google says. The Google Nexus One includes a global positioning system (GPS).

The Google Nexus One costs $529 without a cellphone service contract, and is available online at google.com/phone. The Google Nexus One is $179 with a two-year contract from T-Mobile. The phone will be available from Verizon Wireless and Vodafone (a British cellphone company) in 2010.

Other manufacturers, including Verizon and Motorola, have already released Android phones, but this is the first to be rolled out by Google. Google has said that an unnamed third-party hardware maker is actually building the Google Nexus One.

The Google Nexus One includes a feature new to Android: active noise cancellation technology that will push out background noise when in a busy area.

Another highlight of the Google Nexus One is a feature that lets you dictate e-mails, Tweets and Facebook posts without having to type.
It's an extension of Google's voice search, already available on other Android phones.

Other apps on Google Nexus One include YouTube, Gmail, and Maps.