1 Mar 2006

Manam island evacuation in PNG to take days

7:18 pm on 1 March 2006

It's estimated it will take several days to evacuate hundreds of people in Papua New Guinea after the latest eruption on Manam island.

The Rabaul Volcano Observatory reports that ash has settled at depths of up to 8 centimetres on parts of the island, and there are lava and pyroclastic flows down several valleys.

Similar impacts after eruptions 16 months ago led to Manam's entire population being taken off the island and housed in care centres on the mainland.

The executive officer for the Manam Island Humanitarian Implementation Committee, Don Bivi, says some of the people had gone back temporarily to harvest from their gardens.

He says they will now be promptly taken off the island.

"We are trying to do everything possible by using the local speed boats and the local boat owned by the local government to do that exercise of evcuating them to the mainland."