OCHA Flash Update 1: Solomon Islands Flash Floods, 4 April 2014

Heavy rain from a tropical depression has caused severe flooding in the capital Honiara. The Mataniko River burst its banks yesterday 3 April, washing away houses and affecting an estimated 10,000 people.

Search and rescue efforts are underway. Six people are dead and 30 people are missing, however this figure is expected to rise.

Reports of injuries are yet to be released, but the main National Referral Hospital has evacuated patients to higher ground.

There are an estimated 5,000 people in 11 evacuation centres across Honiara, several of which are local schools. Solomon Islands Red Cross staff and volunteers have registered evacuees in western and central Honiara, and have been asked to conduct joint registrations with Oxfam in the more populated eastern areas.

Accessibility is proving a challenge for emergency responders. The Old Mataniko Bridge was washed away and the larger New Mataniko Bridge has limited access due to fears it will collapse. The international airport has suspended flights due to debris on the runway and an estimated 1,000 people are sheltering in the terminal. Many roads are blocked and the main wharf has been damaged by break-away vessels, many of which have also washed ashore along with piles of debris.

Honiara and areas in Guadalcanal have been declared a disaster zone, although the Government is yet to announce a state of emergency or accept offers of international assistance.

Continuing rain has hampered relief and recovery efforts, although the weather is reportedly clearing with the low pressure system moving away in a slow south-southwest direction.

There is a large contingent of aid agencies based in Honiara who are on-standby to provide support and development partners met this afternoon to discuss assistance. The Pacific Humanitarian has met in Suva to outline potential support once needs are identified.

Further updates will be provided once needs assessment information becomes available.

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 https://www.unocha.org/.