12 Jan 2005

PNG government considering return of evacuees to Manam Island

11:59 am on 12 January 2005

Papua New Guinea's inter-government relations minister, Sir Peter Barter, says authorities are now looking to send Manam Islanders back home.

This follows the mass evacuation of Manam Islanders to mainland care centres, after the volcano began erupting last October.

Sir Peter says there are now at least 12-thousand evacuees living in overcrowded makeshift conditions.

He says volcanologists are now on their way to reassess the mountain's activity, to see whether it's safe for people to return.

"There is a chance further large eruptions could happen, but there has been a very great decrease in activity over the past week, and it continues to subside. We are now looking at ways in which we can perhaps look in the long term, just in future, to returning people to some of the villages on the island."

Sir Peter says they won't stop any Manam Islanders who want to return on their own.