World Vision Media Relations Director
Honiara, SOLOMON ISLANDS (February 6, 2013) — At least 100 homes in Lata have been completely destroyed by a one-meter sea surge following today's 8.0 earthquake, according to Christian humanitarian organization World Vision. Water and electricity remain down as well. Government officials have confirmed four deaths in the islands, and there are unconfirmed reports that some people and fishing boats may have been swept out to sea by the surge. Lata is a township in the Solomon Islands' Temoto Province that was hardest-hit by Wednesday's quake.
The majority of Lata's population (approximately 4,000 people) — including 20 World Vision staff members — have relocated to central Lata, 150 metres above sea level. It appears that most families living in Lata were able to relocate before the sea surge. The tsunami warning for the region has now been lifted but significant tremors are still being felt throughout Temotu Province. World Vision staff in Honiara were on the phone with their colleagues when the earthquake struck at approximately 12:15 p.m. Wednesday. All staff have been identified and are safe.
Early reports throughout the province indicate water is still knee-deep in some areas. Lata's local airport and four surrounding villages (total population: 800) were also flooded by the surge. Some property damage to low-lying homes is also likely.
"I am currently walking through one community [in Lata], and I'm knee-deep in water," said Jeremiah Tabua, World Vision's emergency response coordinator in the Solomon Islands. "I can see a number of houses that have been swept away by the surge."
World Vision is coordinating with the Provincial Disaster Management Office, the local Red Cross, and the Temotu Provincial Authority to complete a rapid assessment of the hardest-hit regions. The initial emergency response will likely include providing clean drinking water and clothing, setting up temporary sanitation facilities, and establishing temporary shelters for families who escaped their homes.
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About World Vision
World Vision is a Christian relief, development, and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. For more information on their efforts, visit WorldVision.org/press or follow them on Twitter at @WorldVisionNews