Solomons Islands death toll could rise | Pacific Beat

Solomons Islands death toll could rise

Solomons Islands death toll could rise

Updated 15 February 2012, 14:20 AEDT

The Solomon Islands National Disaster Management office says the death toll from the devastating floods on Northwest Guadalcanal could go up.

Late yesterday eight people were reported to have died in the floods. But the disaster office's Senior Programs Manager, Julian Maka'a says there have been unconfirmed reports that at least two more people have died. Mr Maka'a says so far at least 1800 families on Northwest Guadalcanal have been affected by the stormy weather and road transport to the western part of Guadalcanal has been cut off due to destruction of roads and bridges, with attempts being made to distribute disaster relief supplies with the help of a French naval vessel.

Presenter: Sam Seke

Julian Maka'a from the Solomon Islands National Disaster Management office.

MAKA'A: Not at that moment although we have unconfirmed stories of one person trying to swim across Poha River and lost his life, but we have still to confirm that. We've just also been told that there is one person missing on Savo, that's apart from one death that we reported earlier on Savo Island.

SEKE: Now what really caused these deaths, because from my understanding there've been flooding of rivers west of Honiara during cyclones and heavy rains in the past but with no reported fatalities. So why now?

MAKA'A: Sam the communities are claiming that the problems now were probably caused by a major logging company operating up on the hills beyond those villages, so they suspect that because of bulldozers digging into valleys and blocking streams or rivers they might have built up dams. And so when the continuous heavy rains came last week the dams might probably have burst and as you yourself are a resident of the area you know very well that that area is not prone to such devastation, even if there were heavy rains. We will have confirmations though because the six teams which the Guadalcanal Provincial Disaster Committee has sent in the area right now conduct thorough assessments. So we hope that that information will come to light.

SEKE: But from preliminary reports that you have what can you tell us about the extent of damage from the floods?

MAKA'A: Right all the bridges from Taboko right down to Kohimarama have been washed away or destroyed, some still standing but couldn't be accessible by vehicle. So at the moment transport wise it's only by outboard motors and boats at the moment. But with the rough seas expected now because of the low depression to the south of Renell and Bellona is developing into a tropical cyclone in the next 12 hours, transport by sea will also be difficult. Now we also have it's around 1800 families as the most affected families. These are between the Tamboka River to Maravovo. So relief supplies are being dispatched through the support of a French frigate, which is here in the country on a goodwill visit.

SEKE: Now what about on northeast Guadalcanal where you have bigger rivers and prone to flooding on the southern part of the island of Guadalcanal, have you got any reports from these areas?

MAKA'A: There are reports coming in but the usual things, water logging as well as floods to food gardens and destroying food. But as far as the Weathercoast is concerned it's quite difficult at the moment. The boat that was dispatched by the Provincial Disaster Committee yesterday to travel to the Weathercoast couldn't go past Selwyn college because of very rough seas. So that team is actually coming back east from Selwyn College doing on foot assessments of the damages in those areas.

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