Solomon Islands Flooding: At Least 23 Dead, More Than 50,000 Affected

April 7, 2014

At least 23 people are dead in the Solomon Islands after torrential rain from a slow moving tropical cyclone caused rivers to burst their banks and send a torrent of water rushing downstream into low-lying, highly populated areas.

Dozens of people were reportedly still missing more than four days after the floods first struck, meaning the death toll will likely continue to climb.

"The death toll will likely grow. It will likely take until at least the end of the week before we get a firm figure," Andrew Catford, World Vision Solomon Islands' national director, told the Wall Street Journal.

Water from the Matanikau River destroyed bridges, homes and other infrastructure as it inundated the downtown area of the Solomon Islands' capital of Honiara. Homes and bodies could be seen floating amongst the debris carried away by the floods.

Rural towns in the country's main island of Guadalcanal were simply washed away by the water, leaving no trace of life.

"This is unprecedented, and I've seen earthquakes and tsunamis and other very bad flooding incidents,”  the country director of Oxfam, Katie Greenwood, told The Guardian. “But this flash flooding is unlike anything that I've seen previously here in the country.”

Tropical Cyclone Peipah

The tropical cyclone that flooded the Solomon Islands is now named Peipah. It is slowly churning west toward the Philippines. The map above shows the latest forecast path. (Image courtesy Weather Underground)

Tragic tales of individuals being swept away by the powerful currents were all too common. In one such case, the Solomon Star reports that the body of a student who fell into a river on Thursday was recovered all the way out at sea on Saturday.

Children were especially devastated by the abruptness of the flash floods. A three-year-old girl was left behind in the rush of evacuations, but was in safe keeping with a local college, the Solomon Star reports. However, other children were not so lucky.

"My staff has witnessed a child being swept away by the floodwaters," World Vision's Emergency Response Manager Lawrence Hillary told Al Jazeera. "They are devastated by what they have witnessed."

All told, more than 10,000 people lost their homes in the devastating floods, the Wall Street Journal reports.  More than 50,000 people across Guadalcanal have been affected by the floods, according to the New Zealand Herald. With most of the area's infrastructure leveled, the thousands displaced by the event sought shelter at local evacuation centers.

But there might be no refuge there, either.

With so many people coalescing in evacuation centers, emergency workers fear the lack of sanitation services and fresh water could lead to an outbreak of disease in camps.

"We're quite concerned about the possibility of outbreaks of disease due to the problem of water access - as many of these evacuation centers are schools, there's limited water in those schools," Cherise Chadwick from Solomon Islands Red Cross told ABC Australia. "The main water network has also been heavily disrupted, so we're trying to get the main water network up and running, but that's obviously taking some time."

Officials in New Zealand and Australia have already pledged funds to aid those in the Solomon Islands, but with so many still missing, the recovery effort is only just beginning.

People with rain wear and umbrellas cross a bridge over the flooded Mataniko River in Honiara, Solomon Islands.(AP Photo/Solomon Star)


Ad Blocker Enabled

Featured Blogs

The Big Thompson Disaster: Reverberations of a Flash Flood, 40 Years Later

By Dr. Jeff Masters
July 29, 2016

What began as a celebratory Saturday in the mountains ended in tragedy 40 years ago this weekend, when a catastrophic flash flood ripped through the narrow Big Thompson Canyon of Colorado’s Front Range. A total of 144 people were killed on that Saturday evening, July 31, 1976--the eve of the 100th anniversary of Colorado’s statehood. critical gaps in weather data, communication, and public awareness had teamed up with a slow-moving deluge to create a true disaster, one that’s had a noteworthy influence on how we deal with flash floods today.

Hottest Reliably Measured Air Temperatures on Earth

By Christopher C. Burt
July 22, 2016

As Jeff Masters mentioned in his recent blog, a temperature of 54.0°C (129.2°F) was observed at Mitribah, Kuwait on July 21st. According to the Kuwait Meteorological Department this was the hottest temperature ever measured in the country (a reading of 54.4°C/129.9°F observed at the same site on July 16, 2010 has been disallowed as a result of a faulty sensor). The 54.0°C reading also is a new record for Asia and ties a similar reading at Death Valley (on June 30, 2013) as the hottest reliably measured temperature on Earth. The key word here is ‘reliably’. Many hotter temperatures have been reported from around the world in years past. However, all of these have credibility issues. In that vein I am going to revisit a blog I first posted on WU in October 2010 listing all the various claims to temperature readings at or above 54°C (129.2°F). In the years since I made that post I’ve learned more about some of these claims and have thus updated my entries and ‘validity’ scores as a result.

An extraordinary meteorological event; was one of its results a 1000-year flood?

By Stu Ostro
October 5, 2015

The confluence of meteorological ingredients the first weekend in October 2015 resulted in an extraordinary weather event with severe impacts. Was one of them a 1000-year flood?

Why the Arrest of a Science-Loving 14-year-old Matters

By Shaun Tanner
September 16, 2015

By now, many of you have heard or read about the arrest of Ahmed Mohamed, a 14-year-old high school student from Irving, Texas. Ahmed was arrested because school officials called the police after he showed one of his teachers his homemade clock. Mistaken for a bomb, Ahmed was taken into custody, interrogated, shamed, suspended (still on suspension today, Wednesday), and reprimanded. All of this after it has been found that the "device" he brought to school was indeed, a homemade clock.