Rescuers in the Solomon Islands are trying to get to remote areas affected by an earthquake and tsunami that left at least nine dead and many more missing.
At least five villages were destroyed when the one-meter wave washed ashore on the Santa Cruz Islands in the eastern Solomons Wednesday. The tsunami also damaged the runway at a regional airport, hampering efforts to deliver aid and survey the damage.
Powerful aftershocks continue to rattle local residents following the initial magnitude-8 quake. Hundreds have fled coastal areas, taking shelter in makeshift camps farther inland.
Andrew Catford, the Solomon Islands country director for disaster relief group World Vision, says his organization continues to assess the damage. But he says some of the lower-lying areas appear to be in better condition than initially feared.
"One boat from the Anglican church went out checking on some of the most remote communities today and reported that perhaps they weren't as badly affected as they could be, given that they are so low-lying," he said. "But there's still more work to do to make sure that all the villagers are safe and to assess the level of damage."
At least five elderly villagers and one child are reported to have been killed by the tsunami. The Red Cross says as many as 460 homes were destroyed.
The Solomon Islands are part of the so-called "Ring of Fire," a zone of tectonic activity around the Pacific Ocean that is subject to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
More than 50 people died and dozens more were left missing in April 2007 when a magnitude 8.1 earthquake and devastating tsunami hit the western Solomons.