17 Mar 2020

Search called off for 3 bodies in Guadalcanal landslide that killed 8

8:17 pm on 17 March 2020

Solomon Islands authorities have confirmed eight people died as a result of a landslide in west Guadalcanal last week.

Days of heavy rain flooded Honiara, on Guadalcanal island.

File photo: Honiara on Guadalcanal island after days of heavy rain and floods. Photo: AFP / World Vision

Five bodies have been recovered from the mass of debris created in Lambi village by a landslide that occurred amid several days of heavy rains and flooding.

The director of the National Disaster Management Office, Loti Yates, says the search has now been called off for three bodies still missing in Lambi.

"Well, the latest we have from the police operations centre is that they were not able to recover the three bodies from the landslide area.

"So that (the search) has stopped. I think the bodies are covered under the debris."

He said the eight victims, including one family of four, were all from the same village.

"The communities have made a decision to stop searching and maybe have that area as an official graveyard for the three that have not been recovered."

Mr Yates said the Ministry of Infrastructure had conducted swift repairs on damaged roads and bridges. This has allowed his office to begin to get relief in the form of shelter and hygene kits to some of the affected communities.

According to the director, his office had received no reports of significant damage from other provincial offices or police in other provinces, and was concentrating on assessing damage and providing relief in west and northwest Guadalcanal.

In this region, Mr Yates said that while between thirty and forty houses may have been washed out by flooding or landslides, that was not the end of the story in terms of people affected.

"All these communities are subsistence farming communities. What they put on ground is what they eat. And if the floods have come and destroyed their gardens then food relief is a must.

"So we're looking at - if we're going to do a relief - approximately twenty-thousand people (affected)."