Death toll rises to 10
URGENT relief supplies are on the way to the earthquake and tsunami stricken island of Santa Cruz last night as the confirmed death toll stands at 10.
Patrol boat Lata and MV Anavon were loaded with food, water and tents and are due to arrive at Temotu provincial capital Lata today.
Sipuru Rove of the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) said an assessment team was also on board the patrol boat.
The team comprised of doctors and officials from the ministries of agriculture, education and representatives from other non-government organisations.
“The assessment team is expected to spend two weeks in Temotu,” Mr Rove said.
He called on the public, groups and companies to come forward with whatever help they can give to support the victims of this latest disaster.
Meanwhile, reports from Temotu say people are still scared of going back to their homes because there’s nothing left, so they are residing in temporary shelters on higher ground.
Wednesday’s tsunami, triggered by a powerful 8.0 magnitude earthquake, generated 1.5-metre waves that damaged or destroyed several coastal communities and flooded Lata airstrip.
As they scrambled to reach smashed villages, disaster relief agencies warned the death toll was likely to rise.
Aid agency World Vision, which also dispatch relief supplies to Temotu yesterday, said some houses in the town of Venga were shifted 10 metres by the surge of water and 95 per cent of homes in Nela village were washed away.
“I’m currently walking through one community and I’m knee-deep in water,” World Vision emergency coordinator Jeremiah Tabua said.
“I can see a number of houses that have been swept away by the surge,” he told AAP.
Mr Rove said the national government had asked the Royal Australian Air Force to send a plane to survey damage to the island.
“We’re hoping for it to happen some time today, if possible,” he said.
Mr Rove said an estimated 3,000 people were homeless, with many villagers fleeing the coast for higher ground and taking shelter in makeshift camps in the rugged hills.
Red Cross disaster manager Cameron Vudi said reconnaissance flights were made over the island yesterday to assess the scale of the damage but initial reports indicated at least 460 homes had been destroyed.
He said the death toll was likely to rise as reports came in from isolated communities.
“We’re expecting changes. There are signs that there might be increases in the number of casualties,” he said.
“There are still reports coming in. Most of the reports are confined to areas that are accessible by road but there are a lot more communities that have been damaged.”
The US Geological Survey said the powerful quake struck beneath the sea about 76 kilometres west of the provincial capital Lata, on the large island of Nende, at a depth of 28.7 kilometres.
It was followed by dozens of strong aftershocks of up to 7.0 magnitude and the Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre put several island nations on alert for two-and-a-half hours before declaring the threat had passed.
In 2007 a tsunami following an 8.0-magnitude earthquake killed at least 52 people in in Western and Choiseul provinces and left thousands homeless.
The quake lifted the island of Ranogga and pushed out its shoreline by dozens of metres.
The Solomons are part of the “Ring of Fire”, a zone of tectonic activity around the Pacific that is subject to frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
In December 2004, a 9.3-magnitude quake off Indonesia triggered a catastrophic tsunami that killed 226,000 people around the Indian Ocean.