Flash flooding kills 19 in Solomon Islands

World Vision

International aid organisation World Vision is offering an immediate response to the flash floods which have destroyed thousands of homes in the Solomon Islands.

Officials have confirmed that at least 19 people have been killed since the Mataniko river in Honiara broke its banks on Thursday, which caused the government to declare a state of emergency. The death toll is likely to rise as the full extent of the damage becomes clear.

Rivers across the country flooded following a tropical storm, and almost 50,000 people are now homeless as entire riverside communities have been washed away. Authorities fear that dengue fever and other water-borne diseases will spread as thousands cram into over-populated evacuation shelters.

World Vision has therefore activated its emergency response team and is providing assistance to those who have been left vulnerable. Relief items such as blankets, mosquito nets, tarpaulins, hygiene kits, cooking sets and water containers are being distributed to over 2,000 people, and further distributions are expected to be made in the coming days.

World Vision's emergency response manger in the islands, Lawrence Hillary, has confirmed that the consequences of the flooding are extensive.

"Rising water levels have caused damage to houses, properties have been washed away, and some houses are washed out to sea," she reports. Clean water sources have been contaminated and sanitation facilities destroyed, thus compounding problems already generated by the storm.

Oxfam country director Katie Greenwood told The Guardian that the scale of this crisis is "unprecedented" for the Solomon Islands.

"This flash flooding is unlike anything that I've seen previously here in the country," she says.

"This is unprecedented, and I've seen earthquakes and tsunamis and other very bad flooding incidents."

Thousands remain in desperate need across the Islands, so nearby Australia and New Zealand have both deployed aircraft to provide supplies and dedicated rapid response teams, along with financial aid.

Aid organisations are urging the international community to also respond generously.