17 Mar 2010

Officials in Solomon Islands hope to send assessment flights to hard hit areas

10:17 am on 17 March 2010

Disaster management officials in Solomon Islands are planning to send an assessment flight to the cyclone hit province of Rennell and Bellona.

But they say they will wait until the weather improves.

Forecasters now believe Cyclone Ului will continue to batter Solomon Islands for another two or three days.

The category four cyclone is moving only very slowly and is maintaining its strength.

A spokesman for the Disaster Management Office, Julian Makaa, says the people of Rennell and Bellona have been suffering severe weather since Sunday night:

"We've organised for a rapid assessment team to fly over as soon as the weather improves to give us a clear assessment of the damage before we can ascertain how much food needs to get them, but we hope that they would have sweet potatoes and cassava available while they are trying to keep themselves alive during this bad weather."

Forecaster says there are very rough sea conditions everywhere and ships and smaller vessels are sheltering from the cyclone.