Solomon Islands (MNN) — An 8.1 strength earthquake and resulting tsunami struck the Solomon Islands April 2, resulting in entire villages being washed away. Damage to several others was so severe that the National Disaster Council in Solomon Islands is suggesting that several villages in the tsunami-stricken Western Province be relocated.
United Nations figures estimate that 5,000 – 9,000 people were displaced by the earthquake and tsunami in the Solomon Islands. The Red Cross Federation has reported that 15,000 people were affected by the tsunami, but government officials put the figure as high as 50,000.
Many of the survivors are reportedly living in squalid hillside camps. Because the most-affected areas are so remote, survivors aren't getting the aid they need. HCJB Global has a medical team on the way. HCJB's Dave Pasechnik says, "The situation is really needful for doctors and nurses and food and tents and relief work. We have a team of medical doctors and workers going to do some relief work, medical work, and other work with the radio station that we've helped put in."
Once in the Solomons, which lies east of Papua, New Guinea, the medical team's work will be coordinated by Gud Nuis Redio (Good News Radio), an FM station that the mission helped establish with UCB Pacific Partners, a U.K.-based ministry, in 2004.
While not first responders, concerns now are turning toward a frantic bid to stop the spread of disease. As is usually the case in post-disaster areas, lack of both hygienic conditions and clean water have contributed to a few isolated cases of diarrhea and dysentery. There are also reports of malaria as an ongoing problem.
Gud Nuis Redio is based in the capital city of Honiara. The worst-hit island was Gizo where a hospital was destroyed. The islands of Choiseul and Rossel were also affected by the tsunami, along with Bouganville, Papua, New Guinea.
The trip represents a dual-thrust effort by the ministry toward Christian media and medicine. "We deal with them on their needs first. If it's physical, then we want to give them what they need. Then we share with them the love of Christ and show them that really He's the one who cares for their spiritual needs."