6 Dec 2004

PNG volcanic eruption claims more lives

6:48 pm on 6 December 2004

Papua New Guinea's National Disaster Centre says five people have died after inhaling ash emitted by an erupting volcano on Manam Island.

Another two people died last month after drinking ash contaminated water.

Around six thousand people have been evacuated from the island, but the Centre's Deputy Director, Colonel Eric Ani, admits evacuees weren't given masks or damp cloths to protect them from inhaling ash.

"The eruption started some time ago, late October, mid October. And there have been continuous ongoing eruptions that contained ash. And ash is the problem as to what these people died from. And I fear that there might be more in the near future."

The Secretary General for the PNG Red Cross, Jacqueline Bogia, says the government needs to do more to meet the needs of evacuees, who are now in care centres.

With the food and water, I think that is a responsibility for the government, and from the reports that we've got, food and water does not appear to be adequate.