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By Moffat Mamu

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Jan. 31) – A number of Solomon Islands vessels have become victims of a regional storm that has centered its wrath on New Caledonia.

According to weather information, Tropical Cyclone Jim is currently hitting the western part of the country and is moving out of the country.

[PIR editor’s note: According to Tropical Storm Risk, Jim on Feb. 1 had been downgraded to a tropical storm, with winds of up to 60 knots. The storm early on Feb. 1 was southeast of New Caledonia and was projected to turn back almost 180 degrees, heading west to the south of New Caledonia. The Solomon Islands lie to the north of New Caledonia. ]

As such Honiara is experiencing heavy rains and gusting winds to 25-30 knots with high waves.

The weather office warned of continuous rainfall as the cyclone moves towards Vanuatu.

These ships were either forced ashore or their bodies hit against each other at the wharf in Honiara, capital of the Solomons, on Guadalcanal.

In Honiara the notable Ramos III of Malaita Shipping Company joined the first owned Transwest Shipping Company vessel MV Western Queen yesterday afternoon after rough seas and strong winds blew the vessel from its anchoring spot to the shoreline.

Many Honiara residents were left shocked to see the vessel being thrown aground by the tossing waves.

One onlooker said it is another blow for Malaita people to see their boat teaming up with the ill-fated Western Queen in front of the Marine School.

Eyewitness at the scene said the boat started drifting in the early hours until it was tossed onto the sandbank by 1 p.m.

No person was in the boat when it was tossed ashore.

At the Solgreen Wharf, also at Ranadi, eight fishing vessels belonging to the company were battered by high waves at the wharf.

One of the security guards at the area said the company ceased to operate because of its outstanding arrears in taxes with the government, which resulted in most of the assets being held up.

No local or foreign workers were on board when the sea tossed the ships onto shore.

The security said that the workers have left a long time ago.

One of the boats was hit against the wharf causing huge opening on its body.

A visit by Solomon Star saw parts of the boat, which was made up of fibreglass, being smashed up against the wharf and other boats.

On land, parts of the main highway and sections of the feeder roads were covered with water.

February 1, 2006

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