Rescuers struggle to aid Solomons quake victims

Relief workers scrambled to reach quake-ravaged villages in the Solomon Islands Saturday, with "unusual seismic activity" sighted as strong aftershocks continued to jolt the remote Pacific region.

Pungent steam was reportedly rising from cracks in the ground three days after a deadly 8.0-magnitude earthquake triggered a tsunami in the region, killing at least 13 people, destroying villages and leaving thousands homeless.

A further 12 houses were reported destroyed following a 6.8 magnitude tremor and another measuring 7.0 late Friday, which sent villagers fleeing to higher ground in fear of another tsunami.

The Solomon Islands government has declared the outlying Santa Cruz Islands a disaster area as a series of aftershocks continued to hamper relief efforts.

A fragile communications system meant officials in the capital Honiara were struggling to get a clear picture of the extent of damage, but the Red Cross said food, water and shelter were a priority for quake-hit villages.

An Australian Air Force plane flew over the ravaged area on Friday and confirmed the worst damage was around the provincial capital Lata.

Authorities do not have immediate access to cargo planes capable of landing on the Lata air strip and desperately needed supplies are being shipped on a day-long journey from the Solomons capital Honiara.

"Relief operations are still going on despite the tremors and aftershocks. Water and food are the priority," Red Cross secretary general Joanne Zoleveke said.

The first vessel to arrive, a police launch carrying medical supplies, food and shelter, reached Lata on Friday evening but could not berth until Saturday morning because of the ongoing tremors.

Volcano and seismic specialists were also being called on to analyse the significance of the steam rising from the ground in parts of the Santa Cruz Islands.

"There's a lot of unusual seismic activity," a spokeswoman for the National Disaster Management Office told AFP from Honiara.

"The earth is clearly doing something there. We are asking for scientific expertise to provide us with some information about what they think might be happening. There are cracks and some steam and water coming out."

The first major aftershock on Friday "triggered a very small wave, this has caused some damage to Lata wharf", the National Disaster Management Office spokeswoman said, adding it was also hindering the unloading of emergency supplies.

A larger vessel carrying bags of rice, water and a water purifier was expected to arrive on Sunday morning.

The aftershocks have prevented villagers from returning home and they are sheltering in makeshift camps sharing limited provisions, with World Vision warning that sanitation would soon become an issue.

The Solomons are part of the "Ring of Fire", a zone of tectonic activity around the Pacific that is subject to frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

In 2007 a tsunami following an 8.0-magnitude earthquake killed at least 52 people in the Solomons and left thousands homeless.

  • Treasure trove of British newsreels reveals Top Gear's ancestors 3 hours ago
    Treasure trove of British newsreels reveals Top Gear's ancestors

    Long after television grew to dominate American and British homes, newsreel producer British Pathé kept at it, documenting the news of the day until finally ceasing production of new short films in 1970 after 60 years of effort. Last week, all of British Pathé's 85,000 films were put online — including dozens of fascinating, rare and often weird car films that resemble nothing so much as a jet-age Top Gear.

  • Nissan tests self-cleaning paint that could make car washes obsolete 4 hours ago
    Nissan tests self-cleaning paint that could make car washes obsolete

    During this vile, never-ending winter, motorists had three options to keep their cars clean: Shell out on regular car washes; slave away in the cold, wind and snow washing it yourself, or screw it and just drive a dirty car. I, like many, chose the last option. But if only I'd been able to test Nissan's self-cleaning car, all my troubles would have washed away.

  • Popular hot yoga myths debunked 11 hours ago
    Popular hot yoga myths debunked

    What’s the hottest new workout taking the world by storm? That would be hot yoga, also known as Bikram yoga. Conducted in a heated room with sweltering temperatures of about 40°C (or approximately 104° Fahrenheit) and 40 per cent humidity, … Continue reading →

  • Photo of a very thin Lee Kuan Yew sparks concern
    Photo of a very thin Lee Kuan Yew sparks concern

    A new picture of Singapore's first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, who is now 90 years old, has drawn concern from people on Singapore's internet space.

  • Waste oil collector struggles after STOMP posts, receives help from kind souls
    Waste oil collector struggles after STOMP posts, receives help from kind souls

    After being photographed at work in Jurong pooling used oil near coffee shops, 50-year-old Valerie Sim has been struggling to keep her family afloat. Web portals STOMP and The Real Singapore published pictures of her in February, triggering a witch hunt for others like her and comments from readers like “Who knows if they’ll use it as cooking oil?” Some readers also said they filed police reports against her and other people they believed were doing the same thing she was.

  • I tendered my resignation without securing the next job. Here’s why I don’t mind.
    I tendered my resignation without securing the next job. Here’s why I don’t mind.

    I have committed a taboo – I have tendered my resignation without securing the next job. The reactions to the announcement were varied but they all pretty much hint at a deep sense of disapproval. “Why did you do that?” It was as if I had renounced my faith. “What are you going to do from now on?” Almost as though a misfortune had incapacitated me. “What does your family have to say about it?” As if I had offered to cook for the next family dinner. I was, and still am, certain of my reasons and motivations for the resignation. However the response I received got me thinking about why people are so concerned about the gaps in their careers. The developed world evolved from an agricultural economy to an industrial economy to the service age, then to the knowledge economy in the late 1990s and 2000s marked by breakthroughs in technological innovations and competition for innovation with new products and processes that develop from the research community. According to The Work Foundation, the knowledge economy is driven by the demand for higher value added goods and services created by more sophisticated, more discerning, and better educated consumers and ... The post I tendered my resignation without securing the next job. Here’s why I don’t mind. appeared first on Vulcan Post.