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Aid arrives after Solomons tsunami
Agencies struggling to reach areas where thousands of people are homeless.
Last Modified: 03 Apr 2007 11:02 GMT
More than 5,000 people have been made
homeless by the tsunami [Reuters]
Emergency supplies of food and medicine have begun to arrive in some areas of the Solomon Islands where thousands of people were made homeless when a tsunami struck on Monday.

But emergency officials and aid workers in the South Pacific nation have underlined the importance of getting food, water and tents to the most remote regions.
The poor communications links and rough terrain have prevented disaster assessment teams reaching outlying areas where 13 coastal villages have reportedly been wiped out.

At least 26 people were killed and more than 5,000 people had their homes destroyed, officials said on Tuesday.
Tim O'Connor, of the Caritas Australia aid agency, said relief operations were going as well as could be expected.
  
"It's been 36 hours and you are seeing assistance starting to get through now, but the problem is the remote location and it's difficut to get to.
  
"It's a very, very complicated business, but while it can always be done a bit faster, we think it's going as well as can be expected at this point."

Jack Bana of Solomons Search and Rescue said it might take another two days to get all of the displaced tsunami survivors under shelter despite aid beginning to arrive.

Major aftershocks

In Gizo, a popular diving spot 45km from the centre of the earthquake that triggered the tsunami, several thousand residents have remained on high ground as aftershocks have continued to hit the area.

Buildings were damaged by the quake then
swept away by the tsunami [Reuters]
"Basically everybody is still up on high ground because we are  still receiving really quite major aftershocks," Danny Kennedy, a local dive shop owner and member of the Western Province government, told AFP news agency.
  
"People are just scared to go to the coastal area because a lot of  people don't have things to go back to."

About 2,000 people are homeless in the area, 10 per cent of Gizo's population.

Many homes were destroyed or badly damaged by the earthquake, and hundreds of houses, government offices and businesses in low-lying areas were swept away by the wave that followed.

Solomon Islands police and members of an Australian-led peacekeeping force were due to fly over the western islands on Tuesday to get an  accurate impression of the destruction.

"I am rather fearful that the number [of dead] will increase today as we get around the various locations," Peter Marshall, deputy police commissioner, said.

He said "many more" people were missing.
Source:
Agencies
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