OCHA Flash Update 3: Solomon Islands Flash Floods, 6 April 2014

There are a total of 19 confirmed deaths and an estimated 52,000 people affected across the Solomon Islands (population 515,870), around half of which are children.

In Honiara (pop. 64,609), there are 17 fatalities, 30 people missing and 12,000 affected. A multi-agency team continues to register people in 13 evacuation centres. The most populated shelters are in east Honiara, with over 3,500 people at Panatina Pavilion and around 1,000 at both the airport terminal and King George VI School. Initial food and water distributions have occurred, although there is urgent need for additional food, water, clothing, blankets, mosquito nets and cooking utensils.

In other areas of Guadalcanal (pop. 93,613), there are two confirmed fatalities and an estimated 40,000 people affected. River systems across the northwest, central and north of the island have flooded, destroying homes, damaging bridges and displacing families. There are also reports of landslides and loss of food gardens.

Other provinces are starting to report impacts, but there is still limited communication to many areas. In Makira-Ulawa (pop. 40,419), an aerial survey was conducted, with the Waihauru Bridge cut-off and reports of damage from a 6.0 magnitude earthquake two days ago. In Malaita (pop. 137,596), floods have destroyed houses and blocked roads. In Isabel (pop. 26,158), a landslide and flooding in Buala has resulted in two deaths, although it is unclear if these fatalities are included in total statistics.

Honiara International Airport has reopened to limited commercial flights as navigation lights are damaged and the domestic terminal is flooded.

The National Referral Hospital is open and accepting new patients. There are concerns flooded areas and contaminated water supplies will lead to increased risks of infection and outbreaks of water-borne and vector-borne diseases.

The Solomon Islands Government has allocated SBD 5,000,000 (USD 687,000) in emergency funds to support response efforts. The National Disaster Council met today and instructed partners responsible for welfare and internally displaced people to establish evacuation centre management teams.

The Resident Coordinator and the Head of OCHA's Regional Office are travelling to the Solomon Islands Monday to meet with the Government, donors and humanitarian partners to confirm Pacific Humanitarian Team and OCHA coordination support.

Australia has committed a total of AUD300,000 (USD280,000) in emergency assistance and relief supplies, and will provide two engineers and two response specialists to assist the Government and humanitarian partners.

The tropical depression that caused the heavy rain and flooding has now developed into Tropical Cyclone Ita (Category 1). The system is slowly moving away from the Solomon Islands in a west-southwest direction towards Papua New Guinea and Australia. A tropical cyclone watch remains for Rennell and Bellona, Western, Russells and Guadalcanal Provinces.

The next update will be issued 7 April 2014.

For further information, please contact:
Elisabeth McLeod, Public Information Officer, OCHA Regional Office for the Pacific, mcleode@un.org, +679 999 1423

Additional information is also available on the following websites:
www.unocha.org/rop
www.phtpacific.org

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:

To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit http://unocha.org/.