William and Kate express sorrow over Solomons floods
AUCKLAND (AFP) - Britain's Prince William and his wife Catherine expressed their sorrow Friday at deadly flooding in the Solomon Islands, where the royal couple took an idyllic tropical break in 2012.
More that 20 people were killed when flash flooding tore through the Pacific nation's capital Honiara last week, sweeping away entire communities and leaving thousands homeless.
The royal couple, who are currently on a tour of New Zealand, offered their sympathies to the Solomons, where William's grandmother Queen Elizabeth II is head of state.
"Catherine and I wish to pass our thoughts and prayers to you and the people of the Solomon Islands following the dreadful floods, which have claimed many lives and which have resulted in thousands of families losing their homes," they said in a message to the islands' Governor-General Frank Kabui.
"Catherine and I recall with affection the warm welcome we received when we visited in 2012 for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and we will be continuing to think of you at this difficult time."
William and Kate travelled to the Solomons as part of a tour marking the monarch's sixtieth year on the throne, which also included stops in Singapore, Malaysia and Tuvalu.
They were greeted by huge crowds in the Solomons and took a brief break from official duties relax at Tavanipupu, a remote island resort.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the death toll from last week's floods had been revised down to 21 from 23 after verification by police, with another two people listed as missing.
It said more than 9,000 people remained homeless in Honiara, with authorities fearing disease will spread through the makeshift camps where they are staying.
"Signs of disease outbreaks are starting to emerge in evacuation centres, particularly in children," the OCHA said.
The New Zealand air force sent a second flight of humanitarian supplies to Honiara on Friday, while the Australian military has also provided assistance to Solomons authorities struggling to cope with the floods.
The weather system that brought the devastating rains has since transformed into Tropical Cyclone Ita, which is set to bear down on northeastern Australia late Friday.
Officials are warning that the storm, packing winds of up to 300 kilometres (190 miles) an hour, could wreak devastation along the Great Barrier Reef coast.