DAY OF DRAMA AND TRAUMA

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Damages caused to the stairs of the Anthony Saru Building yesterday. Photo: Collin Beck.
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7.3 earthquake sends Honiara packing

BY MAVIS PODOKOLO

HONIARA residents spoke of the horror and trauma they suffered as a result of the 7.3 magnitude earthquake that jolted Guadalcanal on the afternoon of Tuesday 22nd November 2022.

“I thought the building is going to collapse,” a mother who works in the six-storey Anthony Saru building told Island Sun.

“It was scary. I thought we are going to die,” the obviously shaken woman said.

“I’ve never experienced this before.

“Now I’m scared of going back into the building.”

The mother is one of the many employees who came out of the building crying and traumatized.

Anthony Saru building is home to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, as well as other government and private offices.

Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Collin Beck was inside his office when the quake struck. He took photos of damages to the stairs, as well as fallen cabinets and furniture inside their office.

Beck said on Facebook all his staff were safe and have been accounted for, but said the building will need to be assessed by experts.

Inside the nearby four-storey Tongs Building, a man who works there said people run for their lives when the earthquake started shaking.

“Many left their belongs behind as they run for their lives down the steps to the ground floor,” he said.

Fallen cabinets inside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade. Photo: Collin Beck

Tongs Building is home to the Ministry of Education, which occupied two floors and the Embassy of Japan, located on the top floor.

All workers made it to safety, but some sustained scratches and minor injuries in the process.

A tsunami alert was issued after the earthquake, but it was withdrawn about an hour later.

At the National Referral Hospital (NRH), patients were instructed to move to safe locations if they wish to, but no evacuation exercise was carried out.

When Island Sun visited the hospital, patients and those looking after them were seen leaving the wards and congregating outside the buildings.

“They instructed us to leave the building and move out to safer grounds,” a mother carrying her baby told Island Sun.

“But where are we going to go? This is why we are still standing here,” the confused mother said.

Patients who were too sick to walk were taken out in wheel chairs from their beds by relatives and remained outside in the midst of the confusion.

One of the many patient assisted by his family member to evacuated NRH: Photo BY MAVIS PODOKOLO

All government and private organisations closed their offices and advised staff to go home.

On the streets, there was chaos as people scrambled to get into the buses and return home.

Majority of buses and taxis stopped working in fear of the tsunami warning, leaving hundreds of people to walk home.

A number of buildings sustained damages as aftershocks continue to cause fear throughout the day.

Electricity was cut out, only to be restored late into the evening.

“I will never forget this day,” Jimmy Wane, a security guard at Tongs Building sums up the day, as he stood watch for another night.


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