Solomon Islands earthquakes: Disaster preparedness helped 'save lives', World Vision says

Solomon Islands earthquakes: Disaster preparedness helped 'save lives', World Vision says

Solomon Islands earthquakes: Disaster preparedness helped 'save lives', World Vision says

Updated 12 December 2016, 7:15 AEDT

Disaster preparedness was a key factor in saving the lives of Solomon Islands residents after the country was rattled by two powerful earthquakes, World Vision says.

World Vision in Solomon Islands says disaster preparedness was key in saving lives after the country was rattled by two powerful earthquakes.

On Friday, a magnitude-7.8 tremor struck off Makira Island, south-east of the capital Honiara, followed by Saturday's magnitude-7.0 quake.

Both quakes triggered tsunami warnings which were lifted a short time later.

Janes Ginting, the director of World Vision in Solomon Islands, said at least 100 houses have been destroyed or damaged, including some which were washed away by waves generated by the initial quake.

He said he was certain disaster preparedness measures put in place by the Solomon Islands Government and other partners had helped to save the lives of residents.

"The scenario is really around earthquake, tsunami and cyclone, so I think preparedness really is a key to support people," he told the ABC.

"We are very encouraged to see the communities actually applying what they are learning; so when there is an earthquake ... they move to higher ground.

"In this case, it's proven how effective it is to save lives."

The National Disaster Management Office, World Vision and other aid agencies were travelling by boat on Sunday to the hardest-hit areas.

Mr Ginting said they would carry out assessments and offer emergency supplies to families affected by the disaster.

"Until the field assessment has been done, we will not get a full picture of the level of damage," he said.

'I thought I would die'

In Kirakira, Makira's provincial capital, resident Zinnia and her one-year-old baby narrowly missed being hit by falling bricks when Friday's earthquake shook their home.

"I felt very hopeless. I thought my baby and I would die," Zinnia said.

"I heard people shouting and children crying. Many people ran to the hills and we joined them."

Zinnia and her family stayed on the hilltop, but by evening her baby had a high fever.

When they came down to visit the clinic, a powerful aftershock forced them to return to the hills, fearing a tsunami.

Mr Ginting said some people were sleeping out in the open.

"It's now the wet season in Solomon Islands so providing protection from the elements for children and families is a priority," he said.