DEATH TOLL TOPS 30, 100 STILL MISSING IN SOLOMONS

SYDNEY, Australia (Australian Broadcasting Corp. April 6, 2006) – The Federal Government fears the death toll from the Solomon Islands tsunami may rise substantially.

More than 30 people are so far thought to have been killed after an earthquake and tsunami on Monday.

But the parliamentary secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Greg Hunt, says it is now believed that up to 100 people are still missing.

"We are preparing for a worsening of the known numbers of the dead," he confirmed. "There may be tens, perhaps up to a hundred missing. But because of the nature of the relief effort and the difficulty, because many of these visitors may not have had full registration of names, it will take a couple of days to sort out who is actually missing and who has been identified. Of course in a situation like this many people may just simply disappear when there's a tsunami ... we may not find some of those who have been lost."

Meanwhile relief efforts are gathering pace in the country's devastated Western Province.

Aircraft are now flying in and out of Gizo airport, significantly opening up the flow of people and supplies from the national capital Honiara.

But there are concerns that some of the worst-affected villages are not receiving what they need quickly enough.

At Tapurai village on Simbo island, where every house was destroyed by the earthquake and tsunami, the ABC was told locals had received only two tents for the 300 survivors who have been made homeless.

The people there said they still needed shelter, food, kerosene, water and clothes.

The survivors are still wearing the clothes they had on when they fled the waves that obliterated their village.

ABC News Online: http://www.abc.net.au/news/ © 2006 ABC. All Rights Reserved

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