At least five people were killed Wednesday by a tsunami that destroyed three Salomon Islands villages after a magnitude-8.0 earthquake rocked the South Pacific archipelago, hospital officials said.

Killed were a boy of about 12 and four elderly people, according to the medical sources cited by Television New Zealand, or TVNZ.

But police officials on the islands, in statements to Australia's ABC network, only confirmed two dead and an undetermined number of missing and injured.

The earthquake, which struck just after midday, was centered to the east of the archipelago and mainly affected the southeastern province of Santa Cruz.

The temblor triggered a series of waves measuring up to 90 centimeters (3 feet) tall that destroyed three coastal villages near the provincial capital of Lata, Solomon Islands police commissioner John Lansley told ABC.

The tsunami also damaged the runway of the Lata airport, hindering the arrival of humanitarian aid.

The director of nursing at Lata's hospital, Augustine Bilve, told TVNZ that several injured people had been treated and did not rule out the possibility of a rise in the number of causalities, noting some 700 people live in nearby coastal villages.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued an alert for the region after the earthquake but canceled it two hours later.

In 2007, a magnitude-8.1 temblor caused 52 deaths on the archipelago, which is made up of nearly 1,000 islands and is home to roughly 523,000 people. EFE