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Danger still looms

Dawn Gibson
Sunday, April 06, 2014

DISASTER still looms for more than 60,000 people in Honiara, Solomon Islands, who face major life-threatening flooding and landslides as floodwaters rushed through towns and homes from Friday.

Thousands of Honiara residents living in settlements along riversides were immediately forced to fight for their lives when river banks broke yesterday, washing away entire homes as people tried to get out of rage's way.

"Just this afternoon (Friday) the Prime Minister and the Minister for Environment declared a state of emergency for Honiara and the Guadalcanal," said Solomon Star chief reporter Ednal Palmer in an interview with this newspaper on Friday.

"So the situation here at the moment is still very hectic and the rains continue to be very heavy and even throughout the entire week and up until last night (Thursday night), the rains were just so heavy."

Palmer said it was a sad situation particularly for settlements and homes along the riverside, where people were used to the river reaching a certain level then receding.

"I think the problem with the rivers was that nobody expected it to be so bad, so no one really prepared themselves properly for it and when the banks burst they weren't sure what to do or how to respond.

"There are also a number of evacuation centres all over Honiara, although I don't know the exact number because people are just evacuating their homes and moving to nearby halls and even schools are being evacuated and being used as evacuation centres.

"The Guadalcanal Plains have experienced some really bad flooding as well with so many of the rivers bursting their banks as flooding continued today (yesterday)."

When asked about the claims that there was looting happening as well, Mr Palmer clarified that this information was incorrect.

"The misunderstanding was with one particular shop which was in China Town. What happened was that the back half of the shop was completely broken down by the flooding and people were trying to get shelter there.

"The owner saw that this was unsafe for the people, so he told them to just come inside and to take what they needed to help them out, so it wasn't a matter of looting," he said.

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