The death toll from Monday’s powerful earthquake and tsunami in the Solomon Islands has been put at around 30. But, with parts of the South Pacific nation still out of contact, the exact number of casualties may not be known for some time.
Strong aftershocks have continued since the magnitude 8 undersea quake struck, some 45 kilometres from the town of Gizo. Some casualties have been taken to hospital in the capital Honiara by international peacekeepers, stationed in the country since 2003.
Australian army reservists have been deployed to assist in relief efforts. Australia’s Defence Minister Brendan Nelson said: “In addition to the two million dollars that has already been committed in aid and, of course, Australia’s ongoing military support to the country of Solomon Islands, we also, of course, take account of the requests that are put to us by the Solomon Islands’ government and the assessment on the ground.”
In a country wracked by communal violence in recent years, where only a quarter of the population has a job, up to 5,400 people are now homeless and in urgent need of food, water and shelter.