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Situation in Honiara stressful says Fijian national

November 26, 2021 12:45 pm
[Image Source: Salote Mataitini]

Fijian National Salote Mataitini, a pilot currently stranded in the Solomon Islands, says the situation is quite stressful.

Matainiti and her Air Kiribati co-pilot based in Tarawa, flew to Honiara on Wednesday and were supposed to fly out to Brisbane today.

After landing in Honiara on Wednesday afternoon, they went into quarantine at a hotel in China Town, which is a hotspot for violence.

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Mataitini says they saw protestors on the streets while enroute to the Honiara Hotel.

Speaking to FBC News from Mataitini says as they made their way to the hotel they could hear tear gas being fired to disperse crowds, and instead of resting after a long flight, she instead watched Chinatown burn.

“As soon as we reached the gate to the hotel we saw the rioters coming our way. So they quickly opened the gate and we went in, and as soon as we entered our room, we started hearing police, they were firing tear gas and rubber bullets, and straight away we were told to stay away from the windows because they were right outside our hotel. We could see all the way to the parliament from my room. There were just protesters there, but the riots in China Town didn’t start until yesterday around 11.30 in the morning and it went to around 8 pm, sort of calm down but by then they had burnt most of the building.”

She says the riots started in China Town yesterday afternoon, and this morning they were safely evacuated to another hotel away from the violence.

“We didn’t know there were other passengers in quarantine because we came on our own aircraft, the twin otter, only two of us from Air Kiribati. There were 30 of us. Most of them came from Brisbane on the Solomon Airlines.”

She says around 30 people were moved to King Solomon hotel this morning with the assistance of the Red Cross.

Mataitini told FBC News they are in a safe location now, and the Fijian community in the Solomon Islands have been keeping in touch with her.

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