Fears up to 80 still missing after Solomons floods
Predictions that the death toll from the Solomon Islands floods could reach 100.
The sun has been shining today in Solomon Islands allowing the search for victims or survivors of the last week's floods on Guadalcanal to step up.
The official death remain at 21 but our correspondent Dorothy Wickham says as many as 80 others may still be missing.
But, as she told Don Wiseman, it can be difficult establishing the correct numbers.
DOROTHY WICKHAM: We have a lot of illegal settlements around Honiara and that is one of the reasons why it is very difficult to pin down numbers at this point. And we are not very good with statistics, as you know. I don't think our last census was very accurate either. And it is going to have to come back to each family member to come forward and say 'we've got this number of people missing -we had so many people in our house on that day and on that hour'. You know we have got people moving in from the provinces on a daily basis here so it is going to be difficult to pin down numbers. So it will all just come back to family reporting in missing and family and families searching for their loved ones.
DON WISEMAN: But there still could be as many as 80 people still missing.
DOROTHY:Yes that is right. We are estimating it (the death toll) could climb to 100 when it is over. Because of the fact that it is very hard to tell in this kind of town, with settlements. We don't even know how many people were in these settlements that got washed away. I am talking about huge settlements - not a couple of houses. I am talking about maybe 50 homes in one spot alone. I have immediate family members with 3 children missing - they haven't found them yet. It has affected everybody in town. This is a small town, everybody is related to each other, knows each other.
DON: The impact must be as you say devastating for so many people.
DOROTHY: There are a lot of people absolutely traumatised [by] watching people drown. That they were not able to help, watching people being swept down the rivers and suddenly sink out of view. It has been really bad for people in most neighbourhoods. And this is where the churches should jump in now and help, if not with the relief, the emotional help that people need now, especially the families.
DON: What are the churches doing? I presume they are involved at this point.
DOROTHY: Well I heard the Prime Minister speak in Parliament because Parliament started its session today, this morning and the Prime Minister called on the churches to step forward and work with the disaster relief authorities, play whatever role they can play and also for the National Disaster Office to also work with the churches. They would know who their members are, to also keep account of people, the churches could play a big role because each community has a little church but even that doesn't guarantee they will know how many people are in the settlement that they look after. It is a very difficult thing for us here.
DON: We know that hanging over the entire area is this threat of a number of contagious diseases. What efforts are being made in terms of prevention of that?
DOROTHY: From what I have seen on the ground basically nothing. I don't think anybody was prepared for this. We were just talking about it, saying we don't have emergency response teams, apart from a relief team with the National Disaster Office. The government has not set up emergency response teams, teams that include all sectors of society. The Ministry of Health is already short of medical supplies, doctors, nurses, even before this came along, so how much more now. They even had to evacuate patients to the Forum Fisheries Agency's conference centre at the height of this flooding. And just maintaining the basic services is difficult for them.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: