Langley police mourn tragedy in Solomon Islands

Langley Mounties are reaching out to a tiny island nation ravaged by natural disasters, on behalf of a local collaborator.

In early April, heavy rains fell on the Solomon Islands, causing major flash floods as rivers overflowed their banks in several parts of the island chain, including through the capital Honiara.

A total of 22 people were killed, and up to 50,000 people were displaced or rendered homeless by the destruction.

“Ten per cent of the population is affected,” said Ashwant Dwivedi, honourary consul general for the Solomon Islands.

The small country, which occupies a large number of islands in the South Pacific but has just half a million citizens, was struck by a sizeable earthquake the same day as the floods.

On Monday, Dwivedi was officially offered the sympathy and condolences of the Langley RCMP as well as the mayors of both City and Township.

“The Solomon Islands have suffered a terrible tragedy,” said Supt. Derek Cooke, head of the Langley RCMP detachment.

The tragedy is somewhat personal for local police officers, many of whom have come to know Dwivedi over the past few years.

The consul is a Langley resident, and he has forged a relationship with the RCMP, working as a member of a committee on diversity, and offering training to the police on diplomatic issues.

In honour of that relationship, a book of condolences was set up at the Langley RCMP detachment, and was signed by both mayors and Cooke on Monday. 

Dwivedi said the Solomons and the RCMP have actually had a relationship since the 1970s, when a number of Solomon Islanders served on a United Nations peacekeeping mission with some RCMP members. The kindness of the Mounties is still remembered in the islands, Dwivedi said.

“I had RCMP members in my thoughts, in the event that we would need their experties in search and rescue,” Dwivedi said.

He said the damage is incredible on the ground on islands such as Guadalcanal.

The island didn’t suffer as much physical destruction when it was a battlefield in the Second World War, Dwivedi said.

In the Solomons, a number of aid agencies and governments are working together with the local government to begin rebuilding. 

More than 30 evacuation centres were established in the early days after the tragedy, he said. 

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