April 4, 2007—
Shown in 2002, a typical western Solomon Islands
village (top) in the town of Gizo stands tall on stilts but is short on sturdy construction. A tsunami that struck on April 2, 2007,
left many settlements flattened (shown at bottom in a still image from a video) in these low-lying South Pacific Ocean islands (Solomon Islands map
A major earthquake some 25 miles (40 kilometers) from Gizo sent walls of water up to 16 feet (5 meters) tall crashing into the town and surrounding villages. As of today the death count stood at 28, though it is expected to rise sharply as search crews reach outlying villages in this remote region.
More than 900 homes have been ruined and some 5,000 people affected, according to the National Disaster Management Office. Some 2,000 people have taken refuge in the hills above Gizo, the hardest-hit town, as strong aftershocks shook the island.
Even as the first small shipments of supplies arrived by boat from the capital of Honiara today, officials warned of trouble ahead.
"There is no food available" in Gizo and nearby Noro, government spokesperson Alfred Maesulia told the Associated Press. "Some settlements have been completely wiped out by the waves."
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Top photograph by Ted Chamberlain/NGS, bottom image from AP