Two earthquakes measuring between 7.6 and 9 on the Richter scale unleashed a tsunami some 10 meters (30 feet) high that completely inundated the towns of Gizo and Noro. Scores of villagers have been reported missing.
The prime minister of the South Pacific island nation, Manasseh Sogavare, addressed the affected population on local radio, saying "In this trying hour, my heart goes out to you."
Pfnet, a local information news wire reported earlier that the tsunami wave, which reached some 200 meters (600 feet) inland in some areas, was the highest ever to hit the Solomon Islands.
The island group is a popular venue with international tourists, and local residents rely mainly on fishing and tourism.
The most powerful and disastrous calamity involving a tsunami over the last 40 years occurred in December 2004, when an earthquake measuring 9 on the Richter scale in the Indian Ocean generated a tsunami that hit South Asian countries, particularly Indonesia, killing more than 280,000 people. Tens of thousands were reported missing.