Solomon Islands: Powerful earthquake triggers tsunami

World Vision is distributing pre-positioned relief items to families impacted by the quake and tsunami.

By Kathryn Reid and Shawna Templeton, World Vision U.S.
Updated February 7, 2013 at 12:00am PST

A magnitude-8.0 earthquake on February 6, followed by several forceful aftershocks, generated tsunami waves nearly five feet high that battered Santa Cruz island in Temotu province of the Solomons.

Homes destroyed, no power or clean water

Eight people have been confirmed dead and the homes of up to 700 families have been damaged or destroyed. As many as 3,500 people are believed to be affected by the earthquake and resulting tsunami.

There is no power or running water in Lata, the provincial capital of Temotu Province. Coastal wells have been covered with debris or contaminated, water tanks and toilets have been destroyed, and the coastal areas are littered with dead fish and poultry.

“Access to clean water and sanitation will be critical in the coming days,” says Jeremiah Tabua, emergency response coordinator for World Vision in the Solomon Islands. “The tsunami destroyed clean water sources, ruined food gardens, and demolished houses.  There are also some fears of another tsunami due to the ongoing aftershocks of the earthquakes.”

More than 70 aftershocks have struck the islands.

World Vision’s response

Provincial authorities, World Vision, and the local Red Cross are working together on a rapid assessment of damages and needs in the hardest-hit areas.

World Vision is shipping pre-positioned relief items from the capital city of Honiara, via patrol boats. Supplies to be distributued include: tarpaulins, blankets, water containers, hygiene supplies, baby kits, emergency kits, kitchens sets, and mosquito nets.

“Debris and water on the [airport] runway ... have prevented aid from reaching the people most in need.  So we hope to reach some of the most remote communities by boat,” says Andrew Catford, World Vision’s country program director in the Solomon Islands.

Food distributions are being handled by the National Disaster Management Office, which is organizing a shipment of rice to affected communities. World Vision and partners are concentrating on meeting water and shelter needs and completing a more thorough assessment of the area.

World Vision will also provide boats and fuel to government assessment teams as they try to access the remote outer islands where the full impact of the tsunami and earthquake remains unclear.

World Vision in the Solomon Islands

Word Vision has been present in the Solomon Islands, located northeast of Australia in the South Pacific, for more than 30 years, working across five provinces on disaster risk reduction, health, education, and water and sanitation.

The 200 islands in the Solomons are located on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” where 90 percent of the world’s earthquakes occur. Temotu, with a population of 30,000, is the easternmost province in the Solomons.

In 2007, a magnitude-8.1 quake in the western Solomon Islands killed more than 50 people and displaced thousands.

How you can help

Pray for the safety of children and families impacted by the quake and flooding.

Donate to our Disaster Response Fund to help us prepare for disasters like this. Your gift will help us rush emergency supplies like life-saving food, clean water, medical supplies, and shelter to survivors.