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Major tsunami damage in Solomons' western province

Fiji Times: Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Update: 2:02PM INITIAL reports show hundreds of homes were damaged and large areas completely inundated in the Solomon Islands' Western Province as a result of yesterday's earthquakes and tsunami.

Around 3600 people live on Rendova Island according to UNICEF, which was already on the ground in Gizo working with reconstruction of schools that were affected by the last tsunami in the area in 2007.

A UNICEF Pacific statement said it was providing immediate support to the victims of the tsunami that hit Rendova and Tetepare Islands yesterday.

A rapid assessment team was dispatched to Rendova and Tetepare Islands by boat.

"This is the second major disaster affecting Western Province of Solomon Islands in the course of three years. Although it is still unclear how great the devastation has been this time, it is clear that the psychological trauma for children and adults experiencing two tsunamis in such a short period will be significant," UNICEF Pacific Representative Dr Isiye Ndombi said today.

"Fortunately UNICEF Pacific is already on the ground in the area and able to provide immediate support to the people of Rendova and Teperare and other islands possibly affected. It will take several days however until we know the full extent and consequences of this tsunami because these islands are very remote and difficult to access."

UNICEF Pacific said it had pre-positioned emergency supplies in Solomons capital, Honiara, to address water, hygiene, health, education, child protection and psycho-social recovery issues in emergencies.

In addition to the rapid response team already dispatched to Rendova and Tetepare Islands, two emergency specialists from UNICEF Pacific are travelling today from Fiji to Solomon Islands to provide additional support to relief efforts.

It said the 2007 tsunami in Solomon Islands left 54 dead and affected more than 37,000 people including 18,000 girls and boys, and also caused heavy damage to thousands of homes, more than 200 schools, two hospitals and several health facilities in Western Province.

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