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Eight dead in Solomon Islands floods

world Updated: Feb 02, 2009 13:02 IST

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Flooding in the South Pacific nation of Solomons Islands has killed eight people, left another eight missing, washed away bridges and destroyed houses, officials said today.

Since December, flooding has also hit the Pacific island nations of Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands, with tens of thousands of islanders abandoning homes.

Heavy rain and flooding on the Solomons' main island of Guadalcanal and nearby Savo Island since last Thursday has caused widespread damage and forced the evacuation of more than 70 villagers to the capital Honiara, said officials in Honiara.

Six teams in boats have been sent to the flooded areas to assess the damage and begin aid relief, Solomons National Disaster Management spokesman Julian Makaa said in a statement.

"The forecast is for more rain as there is a low trough to the south of the country," he said.

The Solomon Islands is a nation of about 500,000 mainly Melanesian people, spread across hundreds of islands, which gained independence from Britain in 1978.

Last month 11 Fijians died and more than 9,000 people were forced into evacuation centres after the worst floods in decades hit the South Pacific island nation.

Sugar is Fiji's second major industry following tourism and sugar farms in the west have been devastated by the flooding, with damages estimated to be in the tens of millions of dollars, industry officials say.