Disease may kill more in Solomons, aid agencies fear

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Aid agencies fear disease may claim more lives than the initial tsunami on the devastated Solomon Islands in the Pacific Ocean.

Monday morning's tsunami was caused a powerful earthquake, with a magnitude of 8.0 on the Richter scale, around 25 miles south-east of the town of Gizo.

However many thousands of islanders too afraid to return to their low-lying homes remain crowded into temporary shelters and living quarters on higher ground.

At least 34 people were killed by the tsunami and many more are still missing, yet aid agencies fear that disease could drastically raise the death toll.

"Malaria is endemic to the area, and the standing water will attract mosquitoes, so it will be vital to ensure that displaced families have access to insecticide-treated nets and malaria prophylaxis," a report from Unicef warned.

A shortage of clean water and sanitation in the area has struck the country, a problem the agency has described as "critical".

The warning comes as Unicef has appealed for $500,000 (£253,686) in order to meet the most urgent needs of women and children in island nation.

Of the estimated 50,000 people in the region impacted by the disaster, 30,000 of them are children with 15,000 under the age of five.

Aid agencies on the island have responded to the crisis by distributing medical kits, measles immunisations for young children and providing support for medical teams.

East of Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands consists of nearly 1,000 small islands and has a total population of around 478,000.

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