South Pacific Tsunami - April 2007
OCHA Situation Report No. 10
This situation report is based on information received from the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) and National Disaster Council (NDC) in the Solomon Islands, the UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in Fiji, OCHA Offices in Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Bangkok, UN agencies, NGOs, donors and media sources.
1. An earthquake measuring 8.1 struck 345km northwest of the Solomon Islands' capital Honiara at 0740 local time on 02 April. (2040 GMT 01 April). The earthquake created a tsunami causing casualties and significant damage in the Solomon Islands. The NDC reports that the affected area includes Gizo, Simbo, Ranogga, Shortland Islands, Munda, Noro, Vella la Vella, Kolombangarra and parts of the southern coast of Choiseul. Gizo, Simbo Island and the central southern coast of Choiseul between Moli and Posarae and Sasamunga are worst-affected areas. According to media reports, the earthquake of 02 April lifted the island of Ranongga nearly 10 feet (3 meters) out of the water and moved its shoreline more than 200 feet (60 meters) out to sea.
2. The Government of the Solomon Islands (GoSI) estimates the casualty figure at 35 (some reports put the number at 41 or 43). The number of affected populations is estimated at 9,000 people The population of Solomon Islands in 2006 was approx. 550,000 or approximately 1.6% of the population. At least 1,500 people still require urgent assistance.
3. Shelter and return of the displaced are the main challenges. The tsunami-affected communities are camping on the hillsides, afraid to return to their coastal homes due to frequent tremors. Many of the displaced left homes that were not damaged, increasing the numbers in the camps. In view of expected heavy rains, the government may make a decision of providing the displaced with tents instead of tarpaulins. Should such decision be taken, a supply of additional tents may be necessary. In some camps, trenches had to be dug around the temporary shelters to prevent flooding.
4. Aftershocks continue across the region, although the frequency and magnitude are decreasing. Several 3-4-magnitude aftershocks were reported in the last 24 hours. Although the local authorities report their activity levels of the Simbo and Ranongga volcanoes as normal, a group of volcanologists will assess them in the coming days.
5. In Gizo, tanks and water pipes have suffered damage and require urgent repair. Water and purification tablets are available but water distribution is a problem due to considerable distances between water sources and the camps. In some other areas, the tsunami polluted local rivers.
6. Food is available, although damaged or lost canoes have impacted on the fishing activities. Tinned fish may need to be distributed until normal fishing resumes. Provision of fishing canoes is one of the main needs in rebuilding the livelihoods of tsunami-affected communities.
7. Communicable diseases are under control. Only a few cases of diarrhoea have been reported. The Ministry of Health (MOH) has surveillance systems in place for a possible outbreak of malaria. Bed nets impregnated with insecticide are being distributed. Heavy rains forecasted for the next days can result in an increase in malaria cases.
8. Save the Children (SCF) conducted a child protection assessment of Gizo, Simbo, Munda, Rendova, Vella La Vella and Renongga. No serious child protection issues were identified. Psychosocial issues are however of concern as people appear to be severely traumatized and do not want to return to the coastal areas. Public messages are being broadcast through the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation (SIBC) encouraging the communities to return.
9. Needs assessment and response is being hampered by lack of access to, and communication with, the affected areas. Some areas have not yet been reached by the relief teams, although most radio networks contact has been re-established. Compilation of needs assessment is ongoing. Gizo is serving as the main relief hub in the tsunami-affected areas.
II. NATIONAL RESPONSE
10. NDMO has taken over from UNDAC the management of a reception center at the Honiara International Airport.
11. Assessments: The Government is planning another assessment and distribution of emergency food supplies around the Shortland Islands from early morning on 12 April.
12. Health: A measles vaccination campaign is planned for 16 April (UNICEF/MOH). The MOH has indicated that six to eight weeks' supply of pharmaceuticals is available in the tsunami-affected areas. The Ministry confirmed order of 90,000 Vitamin and Mineral Powder sachets and 270,000 multiple micronutrient tablets.A basic health care unit was established in Sasamungga. Technical assessments and repair works at the Gizo hospital are ongoing; the facility should be operational within a week.
13. NGO response: The Salesians of Don Bosco dispatched a ship from Honiara to Simbo and Ranongga with water, three 3,000-liter water tanks, 60 bales of mixed clothing, 1000 treated mosquito bed nets, 1000kg of rice, canned fish and other assorted food items. Panatina Chemists donated $10,000 for the relief efforts.
III. IN-COUNTRY INTERNATIONAL ASSISTANCE
14. Coordination: The UNDAC team continues to be based within and working closely with the NDMO in Honiara. Three UNDAC members and two TSF staff members are operating a joint UNDAC/NDMO Coordination Point at the Provincial Administrators' Office in Gizo. Richard Dictus, the UN Resident Coordinator (RC) travelled to Gizo at 11 April to meet the UNDAC field team and stakeholders involved in the response.
15. Two scientists from the International Tsunami Survey Team (ITST) have arrived in the Solomon Islands for an early assessment of the tsunami and earthquake impact.
16. Health: UNICEF sent 8,000 ORS sachets to Gizo on 11 April. SCF distributed basic medicines and water purification tablets to four villages and camps in Munda, Rendavo and Vella Lavella.
17. Water and Sanitation: A mobile distribution point for three camps with over 1,500 people has been set up in Gizo by SCF Australia. A mobile water supply system has been installed in Munda to service five camps with over 2,700 people. Another SCF teams have been airlifted in by RAMSI helicopters to establish potable systems in Rendova Island. A sea-based distribution system is providing potable water by boat to affected people in Rendova Harbour and Mandale.
18. A joint team from SCF Australia, Muslim Aid Australia, and Global Medic has restored the water supply to the Munda and Gizo hospitals.
19. Food: WFP staff, deployed to the Solomon Islands in the initial stages of the emergency, report that there is no need for WFP involvement in food distribution as it is being taken care by the NGOs. WFP has assisted the NDMO with commodity tracking.
20. Shelter: Oxfam, on behalf of the shelter cluster, convened a meeting with the NDC and provincial authorities to initiate discussions on transitional shelter, permanent housing, rehabilitation of public buildings (hospitals, schools), building codes and practice.
21. Education and child protection: A UNICEF education officer is supporting the Ministry of Education in Honiara. A UNICEF protection officer will support the Ministry of Women, Youth and Children. SCF distributed a safe play kit, donated by UNICEF, to one of the camps in Gizo.
IV. INTERNATIONAL ASSISTANCE
22. Japan donated US$300,000 to UNICEF and US$200,000 to IFRC to continue with their relief efforts. The British High Commission provided $250,000 for purchase of relief supplies. Taiwan mobilized its ship to transport rice, vegetables and other food items from Honiara to Gizo. Two planes are also to deliver relief supplies donated by Papua New Guinea.
23. Australia increased its assistance in response to the Solomon Islands earthquake to approximately USD 3 million. Six Australian medical teams have been deployed to the disaster-affected areas (Sasamungga and islands of Ranongga and Vella Lavella). RAMSI is conducting assessments and continues to provide transportation and logistics support. A C-130 transport airplane is to depart for Munda on 11 April with various NFIs, including sleeping bags, tents, lights, heaters, clean water, cooking aids and tools.
V. TRANSITION TO RECOVERY
24. Focus of the coordination meetings in Honiara and Gizo is shifting to early recovery and rehabilitation issues. The NDC Technical Advisory Group on recovery is to meet for the first time on 12 April.
25. Immediate recovery needs identified in Gizo include the rehabilitation of a local hospital, landing craft ramp, water supply system, bridges, culverts and roads, as well as support for the community housing.
26. IFRC is compiling long-term recovery projects in water and sanitation, particularly rehabilitation of gravity-fed water supply systems. IFRC is also considering deployment of mobile saw mills with trained operators to support housing reconstruction. One mill can process enough timber for one house per day.
27. Habitat for Humanity in Australia has offered assistance in permanent housing solutions.
This situation report, together with further information on ongoing emergencies, is also available on the OSOCC Internet Website http://www.unocha.org/vosocc and on the OCHA Internet Website http://www.reliefweb.int/.
UNDAC Team Contact Details:
UNDAC Team leader
Location: National Disaster Management Office, Honiara
Office +677 27 837, +677 27 051
Mobile +677 88716, +677 88718
UNDAC Field Team, Gizo
Location: Provincial Administrators Office for NDMO,
Mobile +677 88 697, +677 88 696
Satellite +870 764 130894
For detailed information please contact:
OCHA Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (Bangkok)
Mr. Rajan Gengaje
Regional Disaster Response Adviser
Tel. + 66-2288-2572
Mob. + 66-8-1916-1271
Mr. Wojtek Wilk (desk officer for SI earthquake and tsunami)
Tel. +1-917 367 9748
Mr. Erik Kastlander
Tel. +41-22-917 1587
Ms. Stephanie Bunker
Tel. +1-917 367 5126
Ms. Elizabeth Byrs
Tel. +41-22-917 2653
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.