27 Dec 2008

State of emergency in Marshall Islands

12:20 pm on 27 December 2008

A state of emergency has been declared in the Marshall Islands after widespread flooding displaced hundreds of people.

The islands in the Pacific group have been pounded three times over two weeks by storm surges that swamped settlements less than a metre above sea level.

The Marshall Islands' chief secretary, Caston Nemara, says hundreds of people are already in temporary shelters but there have been no injuries.

Reports says hundreds of flimsy plywood houses in the towns of Majuro and Ebeye have been swept away.

Government officials say at least 600 people have been forced to take refuge in government-designated shelters and churches, or with other family members.