Director of Provincial Health Services and Head of Gizo Hospital Recounts Tsunami
Gizo/Solomon Islands, 16 April 2007 - Trees swayed. The ground moved violently. My heart raced. Sweat flowed out of my pores. There was this loud, unfamiliar, scary sound of something terrible coming towards us. From the breaking of branches to the destruction of houses, screams and cries of terror echoed.
Doctor Gregory Jilini was getting ready for work at the Gizo Hospital on the morning of April 2, 2007 when an earthquake followed by a tsunami struck. “The first thing I did was to gather my family and take cover just in case the earthquake caused something to collapse,” he said.
“Within minutes we heard a really scary sound,” he said “that’s when I knew something serious was happening.”
Dr. Jilini felt that the tragedy was “a blessing in disguise in the sense that the families were all together, getting ready for work, school and daily work routine. If it happened mid-morning when our children would have been in school and we would have been at work, the tragedy would have been worse, we would have lost so many lives.”
So far only two people on Gizo have perished from this tragedy. As of Friday, April 13, 2007 forty-one people are known to have died, which includes fourteen women and thirteen children.
Gizo hospital closed all wards except for its outpatient ward yesterday. “Those patients who are seriously ill have been transferred to Munda Hospital, which is only a half hour away by plane,” Jilini said.
He added that because his staff were also traumatized and affected by the tsunami, it was a wise decision to close all wards except for the outpatient ward.
As we walked past the flattened houses and debris, Dr Jilini pointed towards a number of staff were picking up boards and aluminum roofing iron to construct makeshift homes. “These are staff members, who have finished their shift from the hospital. They are picking up whatever they can from the rubble to build a temporary home,” he said.