Solomon Islands

Solomons' officials assess damage from strong quake

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Updated April 12, 2010 07:30:33

Diaster officials in Solomon Islands say it could be days before they can fully confirm that there were no injuries or damaged caused by Sunday night's earthquake. The 6.8 quake about 100 kilometres southwest of Kira Kira in the Pacific Ocean and was felt in the capital Honiara. There are concerns that smaller, more remote communities in the east of the country may have been impacted.

Presenter: Geraldine Coutts

Speaker: Loti Yates, Director, Solomon Islands' Disaster Management Council

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YATES: At this stage there is really not much that I can inform you on. Last night, our officers have been trying to get information through police communication networks from Kira Kira, as well as the high frequency radio networks. Unfortunately, we were not very successful in that most of the high frequency radios that are owned by communities or schools or clinics were already closed and we were unable to get enough information. One mobile phone contact was made from a secondary school just close to Kira Kira, who said that one of the dormitories was damaged during the earthquake and they had to evacuate the students who were occupying this dormitory to other dormitories that are still standing. The other school reported that they had to evacuate and they got all the students to the assembly hall, but that was as far as we got in collecting the information.

COUTTS: Well, the communication, Mr Yates, is two-way, you were saying you were not able to get information back from by your high frequency radios. So that also means that you were not able to warn anyone either of the quake. How much warning did you have of the pending quake?

YATES: Hmm, nothing really. We suddenly felt this huge jolt here in Honiara. Some of us, some parts of Honiara, our town actually felt it quite strong, so we knew it was quite strong. Unfortunately, at the time of the day, there was not really much we could do by way of communication, except that we went out on air to SIBC (Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation) to warn people to stay clear of the coast as well as contacting us via whatever they can to feed the information to us. So about 12 midnight, last night, the emergency operation centre was stood down and maybe this morning we should be able to get more information from the people, but warning wise there was not much. We are only hoping that the aggressive public education awareness that we had been undertaking over the past year had worked in that basic information about the size of the shake itself is a warning for people living next to the coast and if it is too big, they have to move. So we are hoping that common sense prevails here and people move inland.

COUTTS: Well, how long will it take you to do a proper assessment of the potential damage that was caused by the earthquake?

YATES: The initial one would be, maybe that initial information through community radios, high frequency radios. So that might take a couple of hours in the morning and if it actually requires detailed assessment i'm sure we can deploy something by early tomorrow morning or tomorrow afternoon.

Australian Broadcasting Corporation
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