Six dead, others missing
UP to six people were confirmed dead and others still missing after a deadly tsunami hit coastal villages on Santa Cruz island, Temotu Province yesterday.
The tsunami was triggered by a powerful 8.0 magnitude earthquake that struck near 33 kilometres west-southwest of Santa Cruz Island, just after 12pm.
Authorities say two people were killed at Nela village, one in Luova village, a child in Bimbir village, one at Venga village, one dead and three still missing at Malo village.
Acting Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Environment Chanel Iroi confirmed the casualties, but added the death could rise.
He said lack of communication to other parts of the province have made it impossible to get actual assessments.
But he said an assessment team will be dispatch to the province soon.
Mr Iroi said the five villages were badly damaged by the tsunami with shelters no longer standing and people escaped to higher ground for safety.
“The Lata airport has also been swept over by waves and reports have indicated that there’s lots of debris including logs on the runway,” Mr Iroi said.
Reports said about 30 minutes after a Solomon Airlines aircraft left the airfield, the tsunami struck.
Mr Iroi said police officers at Lata and others have been called upon to clear the debris from the airport so the assessment team can land safely on ground by plane.
He said they were unable to get confirm reports from Temotu’s outer islands in the Reefs, Vanikoro, Utupua, and Tikopia.
Mr Iroi added Makira and Malaita provinces have reportedly experienced unusual rise of sea level but there were no reports of damages or casualties.
Police Commissioner John Lansley yesterday said his officers in Lata are helping our in assessing damages and evacuation in the nearby villages.
Mr Lansley said he will accompany the assessment team to Lata this morning.
Mr Iroi said that the assessment team is expected to be made up of a number of people from various specialist areas, including two doctors.
“Until the assessment team completes their findings on ground, there is no other information as yet but will give an update report as soon as they arrive there,” Mr Iroi said.