TWO DEAD, SCHOOLS DAMAGED IN VANUATU STORM

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PORT VILA, Vanuatu (April 20, 2001 - Port Vila Presse/Radio Vanuatu/PINA Nius Online)---Cyclone Sose caused the deaths of a boy and a man, sank an inter-island vessel, and caused major structural damage to 15 schools, according to final reports.

The National Disaster Management Office says 16 people on board the MV Omale swam to shore after the ship sank at Malokilikili in rough seas whipped up by Sose.

Sose carried winds up to 100 knots near its center when it swept down the western side of the country last week.

A 6-year-old boy on Santo was swept away by floodwaters while trying to cross the Jordan River.

The Malekula man died after flying debris caused by high winds fell on him.

Office Director Job Esau said 15 schools - mainly on Santo, Malekula and Ambae - sustained major structural damage.

"This is one of the major concerns because the school year is only in its first term," he said.

"We are working with the Vanuatu Red Cross Society to send tarpaulins to those schools affected, using both air and sea transport.

"Full details of damage are not yet available, but the Education Department will be sending people 'on the ground' to compile a more comprehensive report on the full extent of damage to schools."

Mr. Esau said some reports indicated that businesses developed by Ni-Vanuatu - such as resort bungalows built in near the sea, rivers or hillside - also sustained damage.

"People who enter into those sorts of development projects must rethink about where they build," he said.

"We are prone to flooding, landslides and sea surges during cyclones. They must think about insuring against such impacts," Mr. Esau said.

Mr. Esau appealed to provincial and other local authorities in the islands to set up a system of reporting effects of natural disasters such as cyclones.

"Many different reports from many different sources make it extremely difficult for NDMO to analyze these information. So in future we will consider reports that do not come from proper and designated sources as untrue reports," he stressed.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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