10 Apr 2007

Solomons quake assessment finally extended to Choiseul

3:30 pm on 10 April 2007

Assessment reports from the Solomons Province of Choiseul are only now coming in, just over a week after the earthquake and tsunami struck.

It is known that four people were killed and one is still missing, but number of those affected in the province is still unclear.

The Premier of Choiseul, Jackson Kiloe, says his province is the least developed in the country and there is no road from the provincial centre to the affected communities.

Mr Kiloe says it has taken time to check the areas on the south of the island:

"Sasamungga has a road section and that it also wiped out. Communication wise, there is no phone link between Choiseul Bay and all the south communities. The only means of communication would be by two way radio to those communities and those radios are also destroyed seeing they would be on the lower levels of those communities. Seeing that we would be using sea transport between those communities and that can be very risky as well."

Mr Kiloe says reports from the first area indicate nearly 600 families are homeless.

But he says the other two areas are larger and as many as seven thousand people in Choiseul may have been affected by the earthquake and tsunami.

Mr Kiloe says the assessment reports have also been delayed because the staff involved have had to help distribute the first supplies to arrive from Honiara.

Supply ships are now being sent to parts of the Western Province that have still not been fully checked.

The Shortland Islands, which are close to Bougainville, have still not received any substantial aid.

But the Premier of Western Province, Alex Lokopio, says vessels will be underway soon:

That area has yet to be given assistance, a few food and supplies have been dropped by aircraft and helicopter, but they need me food and water and shelter so I think one or two ships will be leaving now to travel to the Shortland Islands.

Mr Lokopio says the island of Vella Lavella, which is one of the big island in Western Province, is also just receiving adequate supplies.