Sunday, April 06, 2014

Solomon Islands: Henderson Airport remains closed

Henderson Airport remained closed for domestic and international flights on Saturday.

A Civil Aviation Authority spokesman said the airport will remain close until further notice.

The airport’s runway was flooded since Thursday as a result of the torrential rain that pounded the country since Tuesday last week.

The flooding resulted in major damages to the airport’s fence.

A visit to the airport yesterday by the Solomon Star saw the flood water has since receded and the runway is now dry.

However, the civil aviation spokesman said they are yet to test the runway’s traffic lights and other aviation equipment which were covered by flooding.

“Unfortunately, our technical people are away overseas unable to return due to the current situation.

“But we will check the runway lights when the weather situation improves to ascertain their conditions,” the spokesman said.

The situation has left many international out-bound passengers stranded in Honiara since Thursday.

Locals who booked to attend international conferences and seminars were also unable to leave due to the flight cancellations.

A number of expatriates called at the Henderson International terminal yesterday only to be told flights are yet to resume.

Since Thursday night, families of civil aviation and weather office workers residing at Henderson were evacuated and sheltered inside the international terminal.

This was after their houses at the eastern end of the domestic terminal were flooded.

A mother spoken to yesterday at the international terminal said they were told to be taken to the evacuation centres in Honiara, but no vehicle was sent to pick them up.

“This is why we are still here,” the mother said.

She said their houses were inundated with flood water on Thursday night, leaving behind mud and debris in the homes after it receded.

“Our houses are now in total mess. They are not suitable for occupation unless the mud and debris are removed.

“This is going to be a big job that will take days to do,” she said.

At the eastern end of the runway, a huge crater was left there after the flood waters dug the soil out and washed them into the nearby Aligator creek.

The main road leading to northeast Guadalcanal was however, spared.