Local man's plea for tsunami hit islanders

By Imran Ali

A patriotic Solomon Islander based in Whangarei is calling on Northlanders to donate generously towards helping his compatriots affected by a deadly earthquake and tsunami.

Benjamin Tegerobo will be outside The Warehouse this morning with a "Please Help" sign and a bucket while his wife will take care of a garage sale at home.

A magnitude 8.0 earthquake struck east of the Solomon Islands at 2.12pm on Wednesday, prompting tsunami warnings across the Pacific. At least nine people are believed to have been killed and four are missing.

Hundreds of homes and four schools have been damaged or destroyed and an airfield has been inundated by tsunami surges overnight, while a water-treatment plant is out of action.

Two 1.5-metre waves reportedly hit the western side of Santa Cruz Island, damaging around 50 homes and properties.

Mr Tegerobo, who was born in Malaita but had lived most of his life in the island's capital, Honiara, said although his family is safe, one of his cousins in Kirakira was affected.

He has been unable to get in touch with his cousin and said to make matters worse, aid supplies could not be delivered because of damage to infrastructure, including runways.

"We're so worried about them. People there are so poor that they hope a miracle strikes from somewhere to get them through the disaster," Mr Tegerobo lamented.

"When the tsunami struck, it really hit my heart and I immediately knew I had to do something for my people because I know how they feel."

Those affected desperately need clothes and he said a shipment would leave for the island next week.

He said any donation, irrespective of cash or kind, would be gladly accepted and would go a long way to helping all those affected on the island.

Two years ago, his in-laws in the western province suffered as a result of a tsunami and Mr Tegerobo said the little-known natural disaster had become common since.

He is a former Whangarei Boy's High School student and has lived in Whangarei for about 17 years.

Those wishing to donate can approach Mr Tegerobo outside The Warehouse today or drop off items go at 25 Carr St, Whangarei where the garage sale would be held on Saturday.

Cash donations can also be deposited at ANZ account 010487012287750.

Mr Tegerobo can be contacted at bensherryramo@ymail.com.

- Northern Advocate

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