[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific

Deadly floods devastate Solomon Islands

At least 16 killed and dozens missing as flash flooding leaves 10,500 homeless in capital of Pacific nation.

Last updated: 04 Apr 2014 09:04
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Observers said the flooding was one of the worst ever faced by the Pacific nation [World Vision]

Heavy rain and flooding killed at least 16 people and left 10,500 homeless in the Solomon Islands' capital Honiara, with another 30 missing and the death toll expected to rise, aid workers said.

Entire communities were swept away as the city's main river, the Matanikau, burst its banks late on Thursday, bringing down bridges and inundating the downtown area in a disaster said to be one of the worst ever faced by the Pacific nation.

"This level of flooding is unusual. I’ve spoken to older people who lived on the island and they have said they’ve never seen anything like this before," Save the Children's Solomons head of logistics, Graham Kenna, told Al Jazeera.

Kenna also said that 16 evacuation points had been set up to shelter more than 10,000 homeless people, a huge proportion of the population in a city of only 70,000.

Fears of dengue fever was a major concern in the evacuation camps. 

"Dengue fever was an already growing crisis here before the flooding. It is getting worse and worse and I predict that the fever will skyrocket when the place dries up," Kenna said. "We are trying to put in place and bring medical teams from Australia as there is only one hospital on the island where the capital is."

Tropical storm fears

The flooding followed days of heavy rain which was forecast to continue.

Some of my staff witnessed horrific things, especially the deaths of children and babies and it will take a long time, both for my team and the locals here, to recover from this.

Graham Kenna, Save the Children 

Al Jazeera's senior meteorologist Everton Fox said the a low-pressure area could develop into a tropical storm.

"This slow-moving weather system has drifted slowly southwards across the islands dumping heavy and steady rain in the last few days," he said.

"The low is expected to strengthen as it moves into the northern Coral Sea and may eventually become a tropical cyclone in the process."

Sune Gudnitz, regional director of the the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told the AFP news agency that flood waters were continuing to build.

He said OCHA was ready to provide assistance but at the moment the Solomons' government was "firmly in the driver's seat" in the emergency response.

Kenna said 40 people were unaccounted for and chances of finding them would be slim. "No one goes missing in a situation like this and they have probably washed up into the sea," he said.

There was still virtually no information from the Guadalcanal areas outside the capital and it was likely communities elsewhere had also been severely affected.

Australia updated its travel advice for the Solomons warning of road closures and delays at Honiara's Henderson International Airport as well as advisory reports of looting in the city's Chinatown area.

New Zealand announced $257,000 in aid and said it was ready to provide further assistance if asked.

"The country is going to need a lot of assistance in the coming weeks. Some of my staff witnessed horrific things, especially the deaths of children and babies and it will take a long time, both for my team and the locals here, to recover from this," Kenna said.

541

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Muslim volunteers face questioning and threat of arrest, while aid has been disrupted or blocked, charities say.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
ISIL combatants seeking an 'exit strategy' from Mideast conflict need positive reinforcement back home, analysts say.
European nation hit by a wave of Islamophobia as many young fighters join ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Featured
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Since she was 16-years-old, Scottish Nationalist Party's Sturgeon has strove for independence from the UK.
Armed group's ransom success with German hostages marks a re-emergence, as authorities investigate ISIL links.
Western nations are moving into the resource-rich country after decades of disinterest, challenging China's interests.