6 Apr 2007

Poor weather hampers Solomons aid efforts

1:36 pm on 6 April 2007

Poor weather conditions in Solomon Islands have been hampering efforts to get to more remote parts affected by the earthquake and tsunami.

A government spokesman, Alfred Maesulia, says there are still many areas in Western Province that have not been reached.

He says people may not be able to get out either because boats and canoes could have been damaged or washed away:

"It would take time to reach those people. The islands are so scattered. Also if there are rough seas around those areas, like at the moment we are having bad weather in the Solomons at the moment, and if this is also affecting those areas then it would not be easy for ships or boats to go to those places and drop off supplies."

Mr Maesulia says some volunteer public servants who are due to go into the area to help with the distribution of assistance have only just left, or are about to leave.

He says there have been problems with finding the money to pay for some supplies up front.

Meanwhile, the premier of Western Province, Alex Lokopio, says officials expect to gain a clearer picture of how many people lost their lives in the disaster over the next 24 hours.

He says the latest toll is 37 dead but large numbers are still missing.

37 dead but many more missing and unaccounted for and we have yet to confirm the further deaths until those whom we sent out to various villages return [to Gizo] this afternoon or sometime tomorrow.

Alex Lokopio