19 Mar 2007

Four killed in volcanic mudslide in PNG

7:33 pm on 19 March 2007

Four people have been killed in a mudslide on Papua New Guinea's volcanic island of Manam.

The deaths and the serious injury of a fifth person last week has prompted the Madang Regional MP and PNG's Health Minister Peter Barter to warn Manam Islanders not to venture into valleys on the volcano's slopes.

Sir Peter says there are huge quantities of ash and mud deposited on higher slopes and after heavy rain the mud and loose material has become a major risk for anyone venturing into the potential path of an avalanche.

The volcano erupted in October 2004, prompting the evacuation a month later of more than 9,000 people after heavy ash falls destroyed houses and food crops and contaminated water supplies.

Islanders were relocated in camps on the PNG mainland's north coast, but many people have since returned after volcanic activity subsided.

Sir Peter says solar panels installed to power volcano monitoring equipment on the mainland were stolen earlier this month and the equipment vandalised.