Solomon Islanders fear returning home

Solomon Islanders fear returning home

Solomon Islanders fear returning home

Updated 30 March 2012, 14:05 AEDT

As the Solomon Islands struggles to clean up and rebuild after last week's deadly tsunami, many residents say they live in fear that another wave will wash them away.

Villagers in worst-hit Western Province are afraid to return to their coastal homes, according to Australian Red Cross spokeswoman Susie Chippendale.

"They're living in hilltop camps at the moment, both on Gizo and in surrounding islands, and they really want to get on with life but that's very hard to do when they're too afraid to go back to their villages," she said.

Ms Chippendale says geographical changes to some of the islands is also worrying the locals.

"On one island of Ranongga, the island has actually lifted right up about two metres out of the sea, and (people) think that means the water's gone out, and that it's going to come back in the form of a tsunami".

Earlier, an Australian RAAF Hercules left for Solomons with more relief supplies.

Australia's foreign Affairs parliamentary secretary, Greg Hunt, says the plane is loaded with sleeping bags, tents, lights, heaters, clean water and tools.

Mr Hunt says more than 50 Australian officials are in the Solomons helping with the relief effort, which is also focused on preventing outbreaks of disease.

"We will help with the reconstruction phase but our immediate focus is on the medical effort while making sure the people have basic food, water, and shelter," he said.

Many islanders still waiting for help

Meantime an Australian doctor who was working in Solomon Islands when the tsunami struck says the crisis is far from over.

Dr Penny Fletcher was on the island of Gizo last week and coordinated the medical disaster response in the wake of the tsunami.

Speaking on her return to Australia, she says thousands of people are still living out in the open in makeshift accommodation, with only basic needs catered for.

"The water that runs from the ground is filthy and the only drinking water is from tanks, but the tanks were up on stilts and crashed (during the disaster) so the water leaked out," she told the ABC.

"These people have food problems, water problems, no shelter and no employment, and it's not over. Malaria and dysentry are going to be the next killers.