Relief effort underway for Santa Cruz islands | Pacific Beat

Relief effort underway for Santa Cruz islands

Relief effort underway for Santa Cruz islands

Updated 8 February 2013, 20:02 AEDT

Relief supplies and medical staff are being flown to the Santa Cruz islands after the Lata airfield was cleared of debris caused by a tsunami generated by a powerful earthquake.

At least eight people were killed and several others remain missing after the deluge swept through more than 15 villages on Wednesday.

The Solomon Islands National Disaster Management Office is sending a boat packed with relief supplies to the islands.

It's due to sail this afternoon, but it could take two days to get there.

Australia's Foreign Minister Bob Carr announced Australia will assist with delivery of emergency food and medical supplies and conduct aerial reconnaissance of disaster-affected areas in the Solomon Islan

The Premier of Temotu Province Brown Beu says, thousands of people are sheltering under tarpaulins and are facing severe food and water shortages.

Sam Bolitho asked him to describe life in the disaster zone.

Presenter: Sam Bolitho

Speaker: The Premier of Temotu Province Brown Beu

BEU: What I have received from the, in this office as of this morning, 3,100 people have become without homes and this number is possibly going to rise to 5,000 when we receive report from persons we have deployed to do a survey on the otherside of the island. These people at the moment living in temporary shelters. It's not tents, it's basically tarpaulins that we have put up in the bush and these tarpaulins cannot keep these people safe from the rain. Some people are virtually outside, no tarpaulin on top of their heads. And as we're speaking, the rain has been pouring down for the last ten minutes, which virtually means that some people are now out in the wet as I'm speaking with you.

BOLITHO: And what about water supplies, are there adequate water supply or are they damaged as well?

BEU: Water supplies were damaged, Lata virtually the source that supplies Lata and the surrounding villages. The waves went into the water source and all the rocks and is now muddy and is undrinkable. And so water would be one of the basic necessity needs that is immediately needed by the people who have been displaced and not only them, but, of course, Lata township is without water presently, eh. Apart from water tanks, now it's raining, it's good, but it's not also good for the others who are out in the open, but it's good for water. But that's basically what's happening at the moment, yes.

BOLITHO: And I'm sure this disaster has caused damage to peoples crops as well. Do people have enough food to eat at the moment?

BEU: Hmm, of the gardens that were close to the villages were washed away. Most definitely all their crops, gardens have been washed away.

Fortunately, for some of them, Temotu, the island of Santa Cruz is like a plateau, so up on the mountain, up on the hill, where it is flooded there are still food gardens. But the ones at the bottom have all been washed away.

Fortunately, people are very, very good and they are sharing whatever they have with their neighbours, especially with the children and the women,

BOLITHO: And people who based near the coast, have they gone back to their old homes or are they too frightened?

BEU: Actually, there is no homes, so they have not been able to go back. They're scattering up all over the place in the bush. There's a temporary camp up in the bush and some of them are here in Lata residing with relatives. The motel where I'm living is now full of people, no rooms, but I just have told them, please just come and stay around where we can keep you safe and I don't even have any money to feed these people, but at least we're surviving.

BOLITHO: How's the hospital coping at the moment? Last month, there was a doctor shortage and the nurses were in charge. I'm sure they must be under a lot of stress?

BEU: The hospital at the moment is under a lot of stress, and the people who have been injured and who were either airlifted or were able to be brought to the hospital. Those who needed medical treatment have all been evacuated and they are now up in the bush. There's a little clinic up in the bush and people have been removed from the hospital in Lata up to the bush, definitely people with drip, who needed drip water.

BOLITHO: Are there any major health concerns at the moment?

BEU: Not at the moment, except for a woman who had one of her legs broken, another woman, the daughter had her arms broken and, of course, there was another girl who was airlifted by helicopter yesterday from his home to Lata had his skull cracked when he was trying to escape up on the hill and the quake came and rolled down a rock and straight over his head, but the situation is stable at the moment, yes.

BOLITHO: Eh, what's your plan now, what's happening now?

BEU: What's happening at the moment, is that the Emergency Committee that I set up is here with me. None of them has run up in the bush. I told them we have to be here. We're waiting for the boat to arrive. We have made arrangements, three groups, one group to receive, to supervise the unloading, and bring it all into a warehouse where we are desperate to store everything that is the relief supplies. Another group to organise the distribution of the supplies and another group to supervise the actual distribution out to the communities. So that is what we are doing at the moment, standing by as the boat arrives, yes.

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