2 Apr 2007

Damage assessment continues after Solomons quake and tsunami

3:08 pm on 2 April 2007

Several villages in Solomon Islands have been destroyed by a tsunami following this morning's massive earthquake near Gizo.

The chairman of the National Disaster Council, Fred Fakari, says there are unconfirmed reports of two deaths but that information on the extent of the damage caused by the tsunami remains sketchy.

Mr Fakari says the disaster council decided not to declare a state of emergency following a meeting because of the lack of information.

He says there was still no idea about damage or casualties in more isolated areas in the west.

Phone lines and electricity were down in the Western Province capital, Gizo, hampering efforts to find out the extent of the damage.

Charles Tennat of the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation says at least ten houses have been swept away to the sea.

"With a number of buildings going down because of the earthquake which caused major damage to the shorefront. In Gizo itself too people have been helping others on the lower ground, taking property and even sick patients were carried up to higher ground."

A Solomons government patrol boat is being sent from Honiara to assess the situation.

A series of aftershocks, with a magnitude of up to 6.7 continued to rock the area during the day.

Meanwhile, the premier of Choiseul province, Jackson Kiloe, has described the sea changes on the western coast of Choiseul as strangely frightening.

He says the activities involved huge rolling waves which repeatedly caused dry seabeds and exposed fish and other marine life.

Speaking from Taro, he said residents in coastal areas moved to higher ground.