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NZ sends aid after Solomon Islands deadly floods

Published: 9:57AM Tuesday April 08, 2014 Source: ONE News

New Zealand's aid effort is swinging into action in the Solomon Islands as fears grow about how well the country will cope with the scale of the flood disaster.
 
Twenty-three people are confirmed dead, while dozens are still missing after the severe flooding last week.
 
ONE News Pacific correspondent Barbara Dreaver, reporting from an area of the capital, Honiara, where many of the dead and missing were from, said the people there are very traumatised.

"Many parents witnessed children being swept down the river, screaming and drowning, and they were unable to help them," she said.

"For the Solomon Islands, this is a disaster on an unprecedented scale."

New Zealand has announced it will provide a further $1.2 million to help Solomon Islands following an initial contribution of $300,000.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said the extra money will be used to provide relief supplies, and help restore health, water and sanitation systems.

"It is now clear that these are areas of critical need," Mr McCully said.

Barbara Dreaver said the water supply is dire, so the sewerage system is virtually non-existent. She also said the logistics of getting around Honiara are a nightmare.
 
The Minister said funding will also be available to New Zealand non-government organisations to support on-going relief and early recovery efforts in Solomon Islands.
 
An RNZAF C-130 aircraft delivered relief supplies including tarpaulins, water containers, and medical supplies last evening.  
 
Disaster response specialists from New Zealand government agencies, non-government organisations, and the Red Cross were also aboard the flight and are now helping with relief efforts, Mr McCully said.

Rain provides fresh water 

Meanwhile, rain fell overnight, providing welcome fresh water to the 12,000 people living in evacuation centres following the flooding.

With the sewerage system in Guadalcanal Island's Honiara destroyed by the floods, Save the Children is concerned about disease spreading.

Aid agencies have delivered hygiene kits with buckets, soap and towels to all 27 centres in an effort to stop the spread of disease and the rain overnight has allowed people to collect water for washing.

"When that water runs out we're going to have try trucking water into these centres," Save the Children's Graham Kenna says.

Mr Kenna guesses half the island's population has felt the impact of the disaster, either losing their homes, crops or businesses, and some of them losing everything.

Assessments of flood-hit area are still being carried out. Aid agencies have not been able to make it to all areas, with bridges to outlying parts of the island washed out.

On the western side of the island assessments have been done by boat, and in other areas assessments have been done by air.

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