Earthquake hits Solomon Islands
Saturday 5 Apr 2014 5:55 a.m.
At least 16 people are dead after flash flooding in the Solomon Islands yesterday (Photo: @UrbanGateway/Twitter)
Solomon Islanders are searching the country's capital Honiara for survivors of devastating floods.
So far there have been at least 16 confirmed deaths, but the toll is expected to rise as debris is cleared and reports come in from outer islands.
Oxfam's Katie Greenwood says there are grim scenes across Honiara.
"One woman who was literally in a very traumatic state just walking down the middle of the busy traffic in the middle of the road and just staring kind of vacantly ahead."
Katie Greenwood says there is a high risk of an outbreak of water-borne disease because of the flooding.
Lawrence Hillary from World Vision says it is a desperate situation.
"[The] people don't have clothing, they don't have warm clothes. [The] people will get sick easily with colds, they will get the flu, and it is likely people will die very easily."
A bridge connecting east and west Honiara has been damaged and Mr Hillary says it is causing problems with availability to supplies.
The islands were also rocked by a strong 6.0 magnitude earthquake early this morning. But there are no reports of damage.
In February last year, the islands were struck by a major magnitude 8.0 quake that generated deadly tsunami waves, which washed away houses and reached as far away as Japan.
The Solomons government has declared a state of emergency but is not yet asking for help from overseas.
New Zealand is pledging $300,000 in aid and will provide more help if needed.
Aid organisations open emergency funds
Last night UNICEF announced the launch of its emergency appeal.
The organisation needs $117,000 to support logistics and all 11 designated evacuation centres with supplies.
UNICEF's chief executive Dennis McKinlay says a key concern is the thousands of people who need clean water and adequate sanitation.
"Our other main priorities at this time are to ensure all woman and children are protected, and have adequate healthcare," he says.
"During and in the aftermath of an emergency such as this, children are at their most vulnerable. Many kids now know they have no homes to return to after witnessing them being washed away by the floods."