3 Jan 2003

Cyclone stricken islanders without communication links months before Zoe

4:52 pm on 3 January 2003

The Premier of Solomon Islands Temotu province says the cyclone-hit Tikopia and Anuta islands have had no communciation links for months and that the government's failure to ensure they do so may have cost the lives of many.

Gabriel Taeo says the government's inaction in ensuring communication links to the north Temotu islands has isolated the 2-thousand residents who bore the brunt of Cyclone Zoe with winds of up to 300 kilometres per hour last weekend.

Mr Taeo says for months residents needed funds to purchase batteries and repair equipment for their radios which was their only means of communication.

He says little is known of the islanders fate one week after the cyclone and that relief aid offered now maybe too little too late for some of them.

"Before the cyclone came there was no means of communication at all. The radio in Anuta has a battery that is not workable anymore and also Tikopia the radio is not working so when the cyclone struck there was no means of communication at all from the two islands.... um I suspect that there maybe some casualties."

Gabriel Taeo, Premier of Solomon Islands Temotu Province

Australia and New Zealand announced that a jointly funded charter boat carrying humanitarian supplies will leave for the islands tomorrow.

While the Solomon's boat with aid left Honiara yesterday after the government met crew demands that they be paid first.