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Relief Supplies Arrive at Cyclone Devastated South Pacific Island - 2003-01-05


Crew of emergency ship reports the residents on the Solomon island of Tikopia survived with only minor injuries

Supplies and medical aid have reached a remote South Pacific island that was battered by a cyclone a week ago.

The Solomon Islands government boat reached Tikopia early Sunday. Brian Beti, a spokesman for the government's relief efforts, says its crew reports the 1,400 islanders survived Cyclone Zoe last week with only a few minor injuries. The boat also will visit another island hit by the storm.

Cyclone Zoe hit the island a week ago, with winds over 300 kilometers an hour. It destroyed dozens of homes, and wiped out the islanders' crops. Mr. Beti said the arrival of the relief boat means the residents will not go hungry. "According to the team leader, there is enough food to last the islanders for two weeks," he said.

He said another relief boat is carrying more food and medicines, supplied by the Australian and New Zealand governments.

The islands are about 1,000 kilometers from the national capital, Honiara. The islands do not have air strips, so planes cannot bring in supplies. Their radio transmitter, the only way the islanders have of contacting the outside world, apparently broke weeks ago.

The Solomon Islands' government is nearly bankrupt, and has been plagued by civil unrest and corruption for years. The government relief boat delayed its departure for several days after the cyclone hit the tiny islands, partly because of a lack of money for the trip.

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