News / Asia

Solomon Islands Assess Tsunami Damage

A damaged house is seen after a tsunami hit the Venga village on Solomon Islands, February 7, 2013.
A damaged house is seen after a tsunami hit the Venga village on Solomon Islands, February 7, 2013.
Phil Mercer
Six thousand people are now thought to have been made homeless by a tsunami that struck the Solomon Islands Wednesday.  The government says at least 13 people were killed.  Charities say food and water is running low in makeshift hillside camps where villagers in the Santa Cruz Islands have sought shelter.  Another huge aftershock has again rattled the South Pacific archipelago. 

The damage inflicted by the tsunami is far worse than first thought, according to disaster management officials in the Solomon Islands.  Several people are still missing after a magnitude 8 earthquake triggered a destructive wave that swept through low-lying villages.  

At least 10 aftershocks were reported Friday, including a powerful tremor that forced villagers to flee to higher ground, although no tsunami alert was issued.  Aftershocks continued Saturday, further unsettling islanders.

Earthquake in the Solomon IslandsEarthquake in the Solomon Islands
Earthquake in the Solomon Islands
Earthquake in the Solomon Islands
On Wednesday, a one-meter tsunami rushed through coastal communities in the Santa Cruz Islands.  They lie in the eastern part of the Solomon Islands archipelago, more than 600 kilometers from the capital, Honiara. 

Damage to the local airstrip had prevented aid reaching stricken communities, but medical supplies and other essentials are now being delivered.

Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo visited the region Friday and declared it an official disaster zone.  His government has received offers of help from its neighbors.

Solomon Islands journalist Dorothy Wickham says Australia and New Zealand have volunteered to join the relief effort.

“These two countries might be helping out and maybe we also have the Japanese and European Union here, so I am pretty sure they will be either offering or will be asked for assistance," said Wickham. "But this is going to be a difficult one.  It is a very remote place.  Boats hardly go there and if it is bad weather it is really tough to get into the communities in that area.”  

Charity workers say several villages have been destroyed, while many others have been badly damaged.  The homeless have sought shelter in makeshift camps, where food and water are becoming increasingly scarce.  There are also concerns about sanitation and the spread of the disease. 

One aid worker said that many wells were covered by debris or had been contaminated, while water storage tanks had been destroyed and coastal areas littered with dead fish and poultry.

A Solomon Islands patrol boat loaded with supplies is expected to arrive soon, while another commercial relief vessel is due to arrive in the stricken region Sunday.

Australia has confirmed it will send a transport plane to help with the relief effort.  Its foreign minister, Bob Carr, will visit the Solomon Islands Sunday.

The Solomon Islands are home to about 600,000 people.  The South Pacific archipelago lies on the "Ring of Fire" - a tempestuous arc of volcanoes and oceanic trenches that stretches around the Pacific Rim, where about 90 percent of the world's earthquakes occur.

You May Like

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs