Relief arrives for cyclone-hit Solomon Islands

Publié: 7 janvier 2003 0:00 CET

Relief supplies have now reached Anuta, the second of two Solomon Islands which bore the brunt of Cyclone Zoe more than a week ago. The island, which has been cut off since Zoe hit on 28 and 29 December, has luckily suffered no casualties and little damage to homes and buildings.

A relief ship carrying food, temporary shelter and blankets from the Red Cross and other organisations arrived at Anuta this morning. It also brought a medical team and a Red Cross volunteer to help assess the situation for the 50 families living on the island, which lies on the eastern fringes of the Solomon Islands chain.

Most of the houses were left intact by the category five cyclone. Carrying winds of more than 300 km an hour, it was the most powerful storm ever recorded in the region.

The team, which included a volunteer from the Solomon Islands Red Cross, found that the relief supplies it had brought were enough to cover the needs of Anuta's residents.

The team had first travelled to Tikopia, the worst affected island, in the early hours of January 5, bringing with it food, blankets, drinking water and clothes. The Solomon Islands Red Cross also provided an engine for a dinghy, a generator and fuel to operate both.

None of the island's 1,500-strong population died, as they had sought shelter in highland caves after hearing cyclone warnings on the radio. But more than 70 homes were destroyed, and tidal waves swept sand and saline water over agricultural land and destroyed much of the island's habitat.

Before the arrival of the relief supplies, islanders survived on green coconuts and whatever else they could scavenge. Luckily, not all water sources were contaminated by the cyclone and a multi-organisational assessment team led by Rex Tara, disaster management coordinator from the Solomon Islands Red Cross, has identified damages to the water piping system.

"It is a miracle that no-one died. But with some coastal villages being swept away and immense damage suffered to crops and land, it will take some time for the island and its residents to recover from this," says Jeong Park, from the International Federation's regional office in the Fijian capital, Suva.

More relief supplies have now left the Solomon Islands capital, Honiara, for Tikopia. These include including kitchen utensils, seeds and fishing equipment provided by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Additional Red Cross aid is on its way through the International Federation and the Japanese, Australian and New Zealand Red Cross Societies.

Related links:

Solomon Islands: appeals, updates and reports