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Flash floods hit Solomon Islands

Flash floods have killed several people and left some 10,000 homeless in the Solomon Islands capital, reports say.

The Matanikau and Lungga rivers burst their banks late on Thursday, washing away homes and bridges, and submerging large areas of Honiara.

The national disaster body said six people had died, but a government spokesman told ABC News that 16 bodies had been recovered.

Pictures showed debris washed on to the shore and houses washed into the river.

More people were reported missing and the death toll was expected to rise, aid workers said.

Disaster officials said several evacuation centres had been set up.

Some roads leading into the city, located on the main island of Guadalcanal, were reportedly closed.

The UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs said the floods had followed days of heavy rain, which was still falling.

“The depression is threatening to turn into a category one cyclone in the coming hours and days,” regional director Sune Gudnitz told the AFP news agency.

“The water has not subsided and flood waters are continuing to build.”

Solomons Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo said the government would declare a state of emergency, local media report.

Director of the National Disaster Management Office Loti Yates told the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation that the flash floods were the worst he had seen.

“There is so much heavy rain around the area that creates massive flash foods,” Yates said, adding that malfunctioning drainage systems were contributing to the floods.

The NDMO has warned residents to go to higher grounds or stay indoors, the Solomon Times reports.

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