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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Honiara medical team leaves today to assess disaster areas in the West and Choiseul

The Solomon Islands government is sending a medical team to the areas worst hit by Monday's earthquake and tsunami that killed at least 24 people.

The six doctors and 13 nurses are leaving Honiara this morning and will head to Western Province and Choisul which have been officially declared disaster areas.

Many of those with serious injuries have already been airlifted to the capital.

Solomon Islands police have established a forward command post in Munda, the town with the biggest airstrip in the west of the Solomons.

A New Zealand Hercules aircraft is leaving Munda shortly, taking hundreds of tents and tarpaulins, and fresh water supplies badly needed by stricken communities.

Thousands were left homeless after the earthquake and tsunami flattened entire villages, and many people have been sleeping outside.

The premier of Western Province, Alex Lokopio says while locals are actively helping themselves, the strain is showing.

More international offers of help

The United States has donated more than $US300,000 towards the relief effort. A State Department spokesman says the money will support humanitarian groups that are providing shelter, water, health and sanitation needs in affected areas.

The US Ambassador has also spoken with the Solomons Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare to express America's sympathy for the loss of life and homelessness caused by the disaster.

A number of Australian aid organisations are also expected to help with the relief effort.

The Red Cross, Caritas, World Vision and Oxfam Australia already work in Western Province, and say they have been in discussions with Honiara to determine where assistance is needed most.

The Australian Council for International Development's humanitarian and emergency response coordinator, Carly Pheehan, says the NGOs will distribute aid and help rebuild fresh water facilities.

Source: Radio Australia

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