8 Feb 2013

Solomons declares state of disaster after Temotu quake

4:57 pm on 8 February 2013

The Solomon Islands government has officially declared a state of disaster for Santa Cruz Islands in Temotu Province following Wednesday's 8.0 magnitude quake and subsequent tsunami that claimed lives and property.

The minister responsible for disaster management, Bradley Tovusia, made the declaration following a decision reached by the National Disaster Council yesterday.

The premier of Temotu province says 3,100 people are now without shelter as they brave continuing shakes after this morning's shallow aftershock.

Father Charles Brown Beu says people fled again to higher ground after the 6.7 quake, the largest following Wednesday's 8.0 earthquakes and subsequent tsunami.

Red Cross relief workers with supplies are expected to arrive on the Santa Cruz group's main island tonight and Father Brown Beu says the 5,000-strong population of the provincial capital urgently needs fresh water and food.

But he says the greatest need is for waterproof shelters.

"We put up temporary tarpaulins but it's no good for rain, it's just for the sun. A lot of people as we are talking are getting wet up in the bush. People are virtually - only the clothes they were wearing they were able to secure and there is no covering for these children."

Father Charles Brown Beu says the effects of the tsunami and earthquakes in more remote parts of Temotu province are still unknown.

Our correspondent George West says the town of Lata is empty as the few people who ventured to return after the tsunami two days ago are now retrieving their belongings and heading back for higher ground fearing another tsunami.

The people are in fear and moved up the mountain then some of them trickled down back. But today all of them packed up and got back to the mountains. It's a bit difficult now to reassure them to return. They are packing up what ever they can and they are camping up along the main road of the Santa Cruz plateau. It's like they are going to stay there for another week until the situation calms down.

George West says the hospital has been evacuated to an outdoor clinic with some patients having intravenous drips strung up in trees.