Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands Red Cross reaches earthquake affected communities

Two teams of trained emergency responders from the Solomon Islands Red Cross Society are on the ground in the remote provinces worst hit by Friday’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake.

The teams specialising in water, sanitation and hygiene as well as emergency response, are assessing the needs of affected people in Makira and Malaita provinces and distributing emergency relief items.

They have distributed enough emergency aid for 180 families in Makira province and 100 families in South Malaita. The relief items were sent by boat and include tarpaulins, shelter toolkits and water containers. The Red Cross has also sent a Nomad water purifying unit, generator, water pump and 5000-litre water bladder to Makira.

The Secretary General of the Solomon Islands Red Cross Society Joanne Zoleveke says her volunteers and staff are working with teams from the Solomon Islands government and are reporting that there is more damage than first thought.

“At the moment, whilst we have teams on the ground distributing non-food items to the affected population, our focus is to get as much accurate data as possible from the initial damage assessment with a particular focus on shelter and water, sanitation and health,” Ms Zoleveke said.

“Initial damage assessments are currently being conducted in Makira, Malaita and Guadalcanal provinces. All assessment teams were deployed with smartphones to collect data and assessment teams to Makira Province were provided with handheld radios.”

Ms Zoleveke says shelter will be an ongoing need and the Red Cross is looking to send more shelter materials on the next boat. She says there is still fear among the community.

“A lot of people are still scared because tremors are still continuing. Even in Honiara there are one or two each day.”

The Solomon Islands government estimates that almost 7,000 people have been impacted by the earthquake. A nine-year-old child died in Guadalcanal when a house collapsed. In total, 191 houses have been destroyed and 114 damaged. Eleven schools and a medical clinic have also been damaged by the quake.