3 Apr 2007

More quakes in Solomons as tsunami assessment continues

3:36 pm on 3 April 2007

Another earthquake of magnitude 6.4 on the Richter scale has hit the Marovo Lagoon area in the Western province in Solomon Islands this morning.

The Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation says it's the 29th earthquake to have struck the Western Province since the massive first quake yesterday morning.

Reports quote residents as saying it felt as strong as yesterday's.

15 people are confiremd to have been killed.

The New Zealand prime Minister, Helen Clark, has confirmed one New Zealand has been killed in Solomon Islands.

In delivering an update on the situation, Miss Clark said nine New Zealanders were in the affected provinces, but said most were not near the worst hit areas.

"The update is the very tragic news of the death of the man with family in New Zealand, children in New Zealand. Very, very tragic and our hearts go out to the family."

The dead man has been named as Teangauki Toma of Porirua, north of Wellington.

The Solomon Islands prime minister, Manasseh Sogavare, describes some of the damage in Choiseul and Gizo.

The entire school in south Choiseul is totally wiped out. That school has an enrollment of 300 students. They are now basically without the infrastructure to continue their school. A number of villages, one of the biggest village in south Choiseul, Sasamunga, over 20 villages have been destroyed, the entire fishing village in Gizo is wiped out completely.

There has been no sign of a Papua New Guinea family of five which was swept away by the tsunami following yesterday's earthquake.

The family, which included two children was on the coast of Rossel Island in the Louisiade group of islands off the eastern tip of the PNG mainland when the tsunami hit yesterday morning.

Our correspondent, Alex Rheeney, says searches for the five continued throughout yesterday without success.

He says the tsunami caused significant damage on Rossel and also on the adjacent coral atolls of Budi Budi.

They lost all their houses as well as their food gardens. The only school, the only primary school that serves the coral atolls has also been washed down by the huge waves yesterday morning. The good thing is there were no kids in the classroom when the waves went through.

Another group of people reported missing from nearby Misima has since found.