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Death toll increases to 23 in Solomon Island floods

HONIARA--The death toll from flash floods in the Solomon Islands climbed to 23 on Tuesday, officials said, as aid agencies scrambled to distribute supplies to thousands left homeless by the disaster.

Health kits were being handed out to 10,000 people sheltering in evacuation centers in the capital Honiara in a bid to prevent disease outbreaks, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.

As many as 40 people are still missing in the Pacific island city after the Matanikau burst its banks Thursday following days of heavy rain, creating a torrent of water that swept away entire communities.

Three military cargo planes filled with humanitarian supplies have arrived from New Zealand and Australia this week and OCHA said more aid was beginning to arrive now that Honiara's main airport had reopened.

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