Aid workers are warning of a humanitarian crisis in the earthquake and tsunami-shattered Solomon Islands, where food and medicine are in short supply for thousands of people left homeless, Reuters Alertnet reports.
As aid began to trickle into the western Solomons provinces hardest hit by Monday's twin catastrophe, Australia's Council for International Development said first reports from aid teams in the impoverished region were alarming.
"It's quite devastating and things are looking bad. You started with poor infrastructure already and people there are very dependent on aid," the council's Pacific coordinator Neva Wendt told Reuters.
Catholic aid agency Caritas Australia said infection would set in quickly among those injured, while drinking water supplies posed an immediate problem.
"This is the tropics and infection will set in immediately. We are concerned about our supply of antibiotics for some of the injuries and anti-malarials for people who are staying outside," Caritas spokeswoman Liz Stone told Australian radio.
"Many water tanks have been damaged, and we also have a problem with food supplies. The gardens have been inundated, so there is a problem with fresh food."
Ms Stone said shops had also been hit by the wave, with stocks of dry food destroyed.
A Caritas Australia statement quoted Honiara Archbishop Adrian Smith as saying that "the aftershocks of the earthquakes have been continuous throughout yesterday and today".
According to Archbishop Smith, "people have been forced to evacuate Taro Island to Moli.
"The island of Simbo with its active volcano has suffered a lot," the archbishop said.
"The people there were caught between their constantly active volcano and then the waves and are afraid to move to higher ground. There seems to have been a lot of deaths in the Simbo area. The Nila health clinic has also been badly damaged."
"I hope tomorrow will bring good news, telling you the waters have subsided and the cleaning up is taking place".
"I hope there will be relief available to all who have suffered so much," he added.
Donations can be made via the Caritas website (www.caritas.org.au).
Aid workers warn of Solomons humanitarian crisis (AlertNet, 3/4/07)
Caritas Australia Media Releases
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Archbishop Adrian Smith (Catholic Hierarchy)
Solomon Islands Government - Prime Minister & Cabinet
Solomons tsunami response under way (CathNews, 3/4/07)
Caritas funds election booklet to support Solomons democracy (CathNews, 15/2/06)
Tsunami still on Caritas agenda (CathNews, 20/9/05)
Pope praises human solidarity after tsunami tragedy (CathNews, 4/1/05)
Total Catholic aid to Tsunami recovery effort now at $500m (CathNews, 21/1/05)
4 Apr 2007