Dozens missing in Solomon Islands flash floods, 12,000 displaced –‘The worst disaster the nation has seen’Posted by Jim at Sunday, April 06, 2014
5 April 2014 (BBC News) – Dozens of people are still missing after flash floods that have killed at least 12 people and left some 10,000 homeless in the Solomon Islands.
Local media said about 30 people remained unaccounted for following Thursday's flooding.
Much of the capital Honiara was inundated as thousands of people took refuge in emergency shelters.
A state of emergency has been declared amid concerns over food and water supplies and damaged infrastructure.
Solomons Red Cross Secretary General Joanne Zoleveke described the floods as "a tragedy none of us saw coming".
Honiara's main river, the Matanikau, burst its banks in the storm, sweeping away houses and bridges and flooding the downtown area.
"We were watching the river but never expected it to rise so fast. It took us by surprise. That is why there are deaths," Mr Zoleveke said. […]
"I witnessed a mother and two children swept away in their home," local resident Paul Lega told the Solomon Star newspaper. He described the devastation as "the worst disaster the nation has seen".
6 April 2014 (weather.com) – At least 16 people are dead in the Solomon Islands after torrential rain from a slow moving tropical cyclone caused rivers to burst their banks and send a torrent of water rushing downstream into low-lying, highly populated areas.
Water from the Matanikau river destroyed bridges, homes and other infrastructure as it inundated the downtown area of the Solomon Islands' capital of Honiara, Al Jazeera reports. Homes and bodies could be seen floating amongst the debris carried away by the floods.
At least 40 people were reportedly still missing, but officials had little hope that they would be found.
"The last report we had was there are 16 in the mortuary and at least 40 still missing, most of them children and it's very unlikely they'll be found alive," Save the Children's emergency manager Graham Kenna told Al Jazeera.
Red Cross secretary general in the Soloman Islands Joanne Zoleveke told Al Jazeera that the river burst its banks rather unexpectedly, despite days of heavy rain, catching people off guard in the city of some 70,000 people.
"We were watching the river but never expected it to rise so fast. It took us by surprise. That is why there are deaths," Zoleveke told Al Jazeera.
Tragic tales of individuals being swept away by the powerful currents were all too common.
"My staff has witnessed a child being swept away by the floodwaters," World Vision's Emergency Response Manager Lawrence Hillary told Al Jazeera. "They are devastated by what they have witnessed"
However, flooding wasn't just limited to the city of Honiara. Surrounding areas in the country's main island of Guadalcanal also experienced record flooding.
"We were starting to receive phone calls also from outside of Honiara as far as the northern part right in the middle of the Guadalcanal Plains of people having to resort to climbing over roofs... to seek shelter from the flooding rivers around them," Yates told Australia Network News.
In one such case, the Solomon Star reports that the body of a student who fell into a river on Thursday was recovered all the way out at sea on Saturday.
Solomon Islands' government spokesman George Herming told the Associated Press that up to 15,000 people are homeless after their homes were flooded or destroyed. Thousands flocked to 16 evacuation centers on higher ground, the New Zealand Herald reports.
Worse yet, with so many people coalescing in evacuation centers, emergency workers fear the lack of sanitation services and fresh water could lead to an outbreak of disease in camps.
Officials in New Zealand and Australia have already pledged funds to aid those in the Solomon Islands, but with so many still missing, the recovery effort is only just beginning. [more]
By DANIEL NAMOSUAIA
6 April 2014
(Solomon Star) – The flood death toll stands at 15 last night, as five bodies were recovered from Honiara’s coastline on Saturday. That’s according to forensic police.
One of the 15 deaths was that of a case in Isabel where a young man died trying to cross a flooded river.
The five bodies recovered on Saturday include three children, ages between 2 to 6 years. The other two were that of a woman in her thirties and a male.
Police forensics said the five bodies were recovered from areas between Ranadi and Coconut Cafe at Point Cruz.
Police said they’ve also received reports of two more missing people from Guadalcanal Plains and one from Kakabona in west Guadalcanal.
It’s understood the missing person in Kakabona was recovered yesterday in the seas between Guadalcanal and Savo.
Meanwhile, police urged families and relatives of missing people to come forward and report them at the Central Police Station.
Police said they are still expecting reports of missing people to come in whilst search is continuing for the missing people.
Unconfirmed reports stated three people washed away by the Mataniko river flood managed to survive and reunited with their families.
Most bodies are still at the NRH morgue whilst others have already been taken away for burials on Saturday.
Contact Laura.Gemmell, Laura.Gemmell@worldvision.co.nz on 021 609 768
5 April 2014
The Government of the Solomon Islands has declared a State of Emergency for Honiara City and parts of Guadalcanal after several consecutive days of unrelenting rain and flooding.
Ten people have been confirmed dead, 30 are missing and thousands are homeless. The death toll is expected to rise in the coming days.
Four of the communities World Vision works in have been affected (Burns Creek, White River, Lord Howe and Sun Valley); with some 12,000 people in urgent need of shelter, water, and food.
"Homes have been destroyed … in some cases, completely swept out to sea," says the aid agency's Emergency Response Manager in the Solomon Islands, Lawrence Hillary.
Eleven evacuation centres have been set up at schools and at Honiara's international airport. The domestic terminal is currently underwater.
There are already fears about the spread of disease once the water subsides. "Clean water sources have been contaminated, sanitation facilities destroyed and there is a lack of medicines to treat people who get sick," says Mr Hillary.
A tropical storm alert is still in place for the Western, Malaita, Makira, Central and Guadalcanal provinces. The weather system is slowly moving and intensifying bringing with it yet more heavy rain and coastal flooding.
World Vision's New Zealand branch has deployed its Humanitarian and Emergency Affairs Manager Dwain Hindriksen to help with the relief effort.
Tomorrow staff will begin distributing packages containing blankets, tarpaulins, hygiene kits, cooking kits, mosquito nets and water containers. It hopes to reach some 3,000 people over the next few days.