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More Emergency Ships Head for Cyclone Devestated Solomon Islands - 2003-01-03

Two more ships packed with emergency supplies are heading to remote parts of the Solomon Islands, devastated by Cyclone Zoe this week. Some 3,700 people remain cut-off, until relief workers arrive to help, and to assess the damage.

Two more supply boats were departing the Solomons capital, Honiara, Friday, heading for the remote cyclone-devastated islands of Tikopia, Fataka and Anuta.

The first ship sent by the Solomon Islands National Disaster Council Thursday will not arrive until Sunday, roughly a week after Cyclone Zoe struck.

Brian Beti, the spokesman for the agency, said "the police patrol boat left the national capital Honiara last night, destined for the devastated island, Tikopia. On board [are] emergency supplies which have been collected here at the National Disaster Center in Honaria."

Australia and New Zealand are helping the bankrupt Solomons government pay for the relief effort, after days of delays due to lack of money.

Cyclone Zoe packed winds of nearly 300 kilometers an hour. No one has been able to assess the damage, or casualties as Tikopia, Fataka and Anuta have no airfields and landing strips. Radio and telephone communication has been impossible.

Mr. Beti said aerial photographs, taken by Australian aircraft, show some of the devastation. "This disaster center here still depends very much on the disaster aerial photos given to us by the royal Australian aircraft," he said. "There have been indications that a whole village has been washed away."

He said the relief boats have a capacity to hold up to 300 people, should evacuation be necessary.