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Eight dead and 15,000 flee as floods hit Solomon Islands

Eight dead and 15,000 flee as floods hit Solomon Islands

The worst flooding in 28 years to hit Solomon Islands has resulted in eight deaths and 15,000 people fleeing their homes. Three days of heavy rains caused the flash floods which have washed out roads and destroyed bridges in the capital of Honiara.

The official death toll stands at eight confirmed deaths, but reports are emerging of people being washed out to sea.

Julianne Hickey, Director of Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand said their New Zealand volunteers based near the flooded areas have been confirmed as safe and in secure accommodation and they are now working to assess the damage and needs of affected communities.

“Solomon Islands are already vulnerable %2D they are one of the poorest nations in Pacific and are still recovering from years of conflict. These floods will have a huge impact on people struggling to survive.”

Significant damage to water and sanitation infrastructure, homes and food crops are expected in Honiara.

“There is no central sewerage system and septic tanks are flooding, which can quickly result in the spread of disease. Houses are flimsy and will be extremely susceptible to damage from flood waters and strong winds.

Access to food will also be an issue as most people grow their own vegetables, which are likely to have been destroyed by the flood waters and supermarkets will quickly sell out of what they have in stock,” said Mrs Hickey.

Honiara Airport is closed, the terminal now housing over 1,000 evacuees. Phone lines are working, but electricity is intermittent and the municipal water supplies are cut off in Honiara.

While winds are still strong in Honiara, the chance of the nearby tropical depression becoming a cyclone remains low.

Caritas’ partners, the Archdiocese of Honiara and the Don Bosco Institute are providing emergency shelter, food and water for people who have fled their homes in the church halls and classrooms.

Caritas will remain in regular contact with partners in Solomon Islands and continue to support their response. An initial pledge of NZ $10,000 has been made to Solomon Islands from Caritas’ Emergency Response Fund.
Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand is a member of Caritas Internationalis, a confederation of 165 Catholic aid, development and social justice agencies active in over 200 countries and territories.
ENDS.

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