Solomon Islands Tsunami Death Toll Expected To Rise

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Disaster authorities still trying to assess extent of damages

By Daniel Namosuaia

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Feb. 7, 2013) – The death toll from the powerful earthquake and deadly tsunami that hit Temotu Province in the Solomon Islands is expected to rise.

Lata Hospital last night put the death toll at five, but other official reports put it at six.

A medical officer at the Lata hospital said five have been confirmed dead, with three casualties reported.

A child from Birmbe village was reported missing.

The medical officer, who asked not to be named, said the number of casualties is also expected to rise.

He said as of last night, everyone was still in shock and could not do much, finding it difficult to transport the injured to hospital.

Lata provincial police commander Alfred Uiga also suggested the death toll and number of casualties are expected to rise.

Mr. Uiga said at this stage they cannot do a thorough assessment due to difficulties they faced with transport and also that road access to the villages was still under water.

He said they are also investigating unconfirmed reports of 10 missing people.

"We cannot do much with the limited resources we have, but hopefully by tomorrow we expect to do a thorough assessment to make an updated report of our findings. But up until now, we will only be speculating," Mr. Uiga told the Solomon Star from Lata.

From the confirmed deaths, 3 from Nela village (2 male, 1 female) and 2 from Nea village (both females).All the deaths were old people who were said to have died from the tsunami.

Apart from these deaths and casualties, Lata airport terminal was reportedly destroyed and debris was blocking the runway.

All houses at Nela villages on Santa Cruz island were destroyed. Sixteen houses at Luava village were also reported to have destroyed.

Birmbe villages also received unconfirmed number of houses being damaged. Other properties like piggery and food gardens were also destroyed.

In Makira Ulawa province’s Santa Anna and Namunga, there were reports of high swells but everyone was able to move to higher ground.

No damage reports were available when this paper went to print. However Kirakira hospital was successfully evacuated and river levels at Kirakira were reportedly rising due to the series of waves.

There were no reports of damages in Malaita however unusual wave and current activity has been reported throughout the province but there were no damages.

The National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) said that it is too early to have a clear picture of the damage caused so far.

It said the high number of aftershocks and the difficulties inherent in accessing Temotu makes gathering swift accurate information a challenge.

Their concern is for the more remote areas of Temotu where no reports have been forthcoming thus far.

Solomon Airlines will fly a team to Lata today. Medical personnel are to be part of the team.

NDMO reported that a possible flyover is to be conducted over Santa Cruz by Solomon Airlines before any assessment team is taken to Lata.

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