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News Note - Second tsunami in three years hits Solomon Islands

2010-01-04

Gizo, 5 January 2009 – UNICEF Pacific is providing immediate support to the victims of a tsunami that hit Rendova and Tetepare Islands in the Solomon Islands on 4 January. The tsunami was generated by a series of earthquakes and is the second major disaster affecting the Solomon Islands since another tsunami hit the Western Province of Solomon Islands in April 2007.

Already on the ground in Gizo working with reconstruction of schools affected by the 2007 tsunami, UNICEF Pacific was well positioned yesterday to immediately dispatch a rapid assessment team travelling to Rendova and Tetepare Islands by boat. This followed initial reports that Rendova Island has been severely affected with hundreds of houses damaged and large areas completely inundated. There are 3600 people living on Rendova Island.

“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. 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 extend and consequences of this tsunami because these islands are very remote and difficult to access”, UNICEF Pacific Representative Dr. Isiye Ndombi stated today.

On Rendova Island itself UNICEF Pacific is in the process of reconstructing 19 schools affected by the 2007 tsunami and has pre-positioned emergency supplies in the 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.

UNICEF Pacific has been working with reconstruction of schools and sanitation infrastructure in Western Province of Solomon Islands since April 2007 and is on track to complete reconstruction of 110 schools in the province by the end of 2010. The 2007 tsunami in Solomon Islands affected more than 37.000 people including 18.000 girls and boys, left 54 dead and caused heavy damage to thousands of homes, more than 200 schools, 2 hospitals and several health facilities in Western Province.

For further information:

Stefanie Carmichael, Communications Specialist, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8866; Cell: (647) 500-4230, scarmichael@unicef.ca.
Tiffany Baggetta, Director, Communications and Brand, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8892; Cell: (647) 308-4806, tbaggetta@unicef.ca.