23 May 2007

Hundreds remain on higher ground in PNG following volcanic eruption

5:11 am on 23 May 2007

Hundreds of people on Siassi Island in Papua New Guinea remain on higher ground following a volcanic eruption at the weekend.

The local Disaster and Emergency centre in Morobe province says up to two thousand people fled their homes after the eruption on nearby Ritter Island, which sent a tidal wave washing over villages on the eastern part of Siassi.

The centre's director, Roy Kamen, says smoke is still coming out of the volcano, and a few tremors are still being felt.

He says villagers are being told to stay on higher ground until there is more information from the local volcanic observatory.

"We are still waiting for them to advise us on the status of the situation. Only four houses were destroyed, according to reports we received as of yesterday. I think most of the houses are intact, people just for safety reasons, they just moved out of their village to higher ground."

Mr Kamen says there have been no reports of casualties but helicopters have been unable to reach the area to check on the situation.