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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Solomons’ Santa Cruz Island Declared Disaster Area
Government teams doing assessments in affected areas

By Douglas Marau

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Feb. 9, 2013) – Santa Cruz Islands in the Temotu province has been declared a "disaster area"

The Government through the Minister of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Metrology Bradley Tovosia made the declaration in a press conference at the Prime Minister’s Office yesterday.

The declaration was made following a unanimous decision by the National Disaster Council (NDC) on Thursday.

"The Council has advised me to make a formal declaration of a state of disaster in the Santa Cruz Islands," Mr Tovosia said.

He added that under Section 12.1 of the NDC Act (1989), the NDC has satisfied itself that the logistical challenge inherent in responding to a disaster in Temotu means that support has been delayed departing Honiara to reach the affected areas.

"This coupled with the number of dead already reported, the huge disruption to normal functioning in the province and that the capacity at the local, provincial and national level to deal with it alone has been exceeded here, leads the NDC to recommend that a declaration of disaster should be made," Mr Tovosia said.

The minister responsible for disaster added that the provincial emergency operations centre has been activated and there are currently six teams doing assessments in the affected areas.

He said judging by current information they have received, they expect the province would require significant additional support.

[PIR editor’s note: Amid continued aftershocks which are leaving villagers frightened and away from the coast, Australia, New Zealand and UNICEF have announced aid and send relief supplies to the affected province.]

"I hope that by making the official disaster declaration it will mobilise more support both in and outside of Solomon Islands to facilitate the processes more swiftly," Mr Tovosia said.

Meanwhile, it is understood Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo’s visit to the affected areas was cut short after the aircraft was advised to return to Honiara because of another 6.6 earthquake that struck Temotu province yesterday morning.

In the meantime, the National Disaster Management Office yesterday confirmed more than 700 homes had been destroyed and more than 3000 people have been displaced by the recent earthquake and tsunami.

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