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Tsunami death toll on Solomon Islands reaches 52

JAKARTA, April 16 (RIA Novosti) - The authorities on the Solomon Islands have confirmed the death toll caused by a tsunami that struck the island group two weeks ago stands at 52, government spokesman Alfred Maesulia said Monday.

Two earthquakes measuring between 7.6 and 9 on the Richter scale caused a tsunami some 10 meters (30 feet) high that completely flooded the towns of Gizo and Noro on April 2.

People First Network Solomon Islands (PFnet) reported on Monday that there were no more people were missing.

Manasseh Sogavare, premier of the Solomon Islands, has urged the international community to help relief efforts in his tiny country, where the disaster left 6,000 to 7,000 people homeless.

According to the local government's preliminary estimates, the Western province, which was hit hardest and accounts for 33 of the deaths, will require over $200 million for reconstruction work in Gizo.

With a population of about 550,000 the island group is a popular tourist destination, and local residents rely mainly on fishing and tourism for income.

The Solomon Islands and neighboring Indonesia form part of Oceania and are located in the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, an area of frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

The most powerful and disastrous calamity involving a tsunami over the last 40 years occurred in December 2004, when an earthquake measuring 9 on the Richter scale in the Indian Ocean generated a tsunami that hit South Asian countries, particularly Indonesia, killing more than 280,000 people. Tens of thousands were reported missing.

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