Strong aftershocks rattled the Solomon Islands today, hampering relief efforts to tsunami-ravaged villages and forcing the South Pacific nation's prime minister to forgo a visit to the stricken area, where nine deaths have been confirmed. Officials were already struggling to reach the isolated region when a magnitude-6.6 aftershock hit this morning, damaging roads in the island's main town of Lata and preventing aid workers stationed there from reaching people on the coast.
"We've had over 115 aftershocks, but unlike all the others, this one moved vertically up and down. For the first time, it's created cracks in the roads," said a relief agency director. A stronger 7.1-magnitude aftershock struck late today. There was no tsunami risk and no immediate reports of damage.