7 Feb 2013

First assessment team arrives in Solomons quake zone

3:24 pm on 7 February 2013

The first assessment team to arrive in the area hit by yesterday's tsunami in Solomon Islands has landed by way of helicopter and it's hoped the airport runway will be clear by tomorrow.

The National Disaster Office says up to 3,000 people have been displaced from their homes in Temotu province as a result of the surge wave, while six people are confirmed dead.

The Premier of Temotu Province Father Charles Brown Beu says a helicopter arrived late this morning to make the first assessment and progress is being made at the airport in Lata which is covered in debris.

"The airport is being cleared by some workers, by the end of today the airport would be clear of all the debris so people are now working on it and any time tomorrow or the following day airplanes should be landing."

Father Charles Brown Beu says the Provincial Government has limited resources and there is a real need now for shelter and building materials.

James Meplana, who works for the Temotu Development Authority and lives near Lata says some people lost everything.

One village at the end of the airport, all the houses were completely destroyed. There were four other villages that were completely destoyed and they lost everything, and they only have what they wear. They lost all their things.

James Meplana says the tsunami also damaged the water source that supplies the town centre.

New Zealand's Foreign Minister, Murray McCully, has announced the government is making an emergency response to help the victims of yesterday's earthquake and tsunami in Solomon Islands.

He says 169,000 US dollars is being made available for humanitarian supplies and support to the Solomon Islands government assessment teams.

Mr McCully says the remoteness of the area means it may take some time to gain a full picture of the extent of the damage and New Zealand is prepared to provide additional help.