21 Feb 2011

High tides flood low-lying atolls in Marshall Islands

11:26 am on 21 February 2011

High tides at the weekend have flooded parts of Majuro, in the Marshall Islands.

More flooding was expected overnight before the tide levels drop during the week.

Government workers used heavy equipment to clear rocks, coral and other debris that washed onto roads, making vehicle passage hazardous.

A marine researcher from the University of Hawaii, working at the College of the Marshall Islands, Dr Murray Ford, said the tides had been exacerbated by the La Nina weather pattern.

He said that regular occurrence had been made worse by long term sea level rise and will continue to increase in frequency and magnitude.

Overcrowded conditions in the urban center have forced people to build homes within a couple of meters of the shore, increasing their exposure to flooding during peak tide periods.