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. Tsunami Aid Yet To Reach Remote Solomons Villages

Five boats and helicopters are being used to ferry supplies -- including water purifying tablets and equipment, rice, and tinned fish -- to outlying islands from the Western Province hub of Gizo. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
Honiara (AFP) April 10, 2007
The death toll from last week's earthquake and tsunami in the Solomon Islands has risen to 40, officials said Tuesday, but some remote areas are still waiting for aid to reach them.

The National Disaster Management Office revised the toll upward after the discovery of a two-year-old boy's body.

Separately, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare announced that Friday would be a day of mourning following last Monday's 8.0-magnitude quake and tsunami which smashed into town and villages in the west of the improverished South Pacific archipelago.

Aid continued to pour into the Solomon Islands during the Easter weekend, with new supplies arriving from Australia, New Zealand, the French territory of New Caledonia and Japan.

But New Zealand Defence Minister Phil Goff, who returned late Monday from a 24 hour visit, said some isolated areas were still to receive food, water and other emergency supplies.

Up to 7,000 people were left homeless by the disaster and many more living in low-lying areas are afraid to return home from hill camps because of fears of another tsunami.

"The estimate was that 80 percent of the communities have been contacted and have been receiving relief supplies, and the other 20 percent they hope to get to over the next three days," Goff told Radio New Zealand.

He said he was told by the disaster management committee that 24 people were still reported to be missing.

Five boats and helicopters are being used to ferry supplies -- including water purifying tablets and equipment, rice, and tinned fish -- to outlying islands from the Western Province hub of Gizo.

A relief team has visited the village of Sasamunga on the south coast of Choiseul province following complaints that aid was being concentrated in the Western Province.

The tsunami swept about 500 metres inland at Sasamunga, leaving most of the village destroyed and at least four people dead.

A Methodist church leader in Sasamunga, Reverend Armstrong Pitakaji, said his area had been ignored immediately after the disaster in what he called an "injustice" to the survivors.

In Gizo, a Red Cross official said threats of disease appeared to be under control but there were many cases of cuts becoming infected.

The World Bank said Tuesday it would send a team to the Solomon Islands to assess damage to infrastructure.

The area relies heavily on sea transport and many wharves and jetties have been destroyed or damaged, along with roads in more populated areas.

Australia announced it would send a third air force cargo plane Wednesday carrying relief supplies including sleeping bags, tents, cooking utensils and tools.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Tradition Blamed For Slow Solomons Relief
Gizo, Solomon Islands (AFP) Apr 08, 2007
As the death toll from the Solomon Islands tsunami keeps rising, many here blame a local tradition of helping relatives first for delays in getting disaster relief to those in need.

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