17 Apr 2014

PNG police in Milne Bay defend relief efforts after Cyclone Ita

6:44 am on 17 April 2014

The police commander in Milne Bay in Papua New Guinea has defended the response to Cyclone Ita after criticism from an MP.

The MP for Samarai-Murua, Gordon Wesley, says there's no need for a helicopter to survey damage, when barges should be taking food and rations to alleviate the thousands that had their crops destroyed.

The co-ordinator of the response, Eric Balaria, says 57 bales of rice are already on their way to Wari island, and he hopes to send another boat on Monday to the outer islands.

He says money takes three days to clear in PNG and although they have funds, it's likely the boat won't be ready to go any sooner.

The police commander, Joseph Morehare, says due to communication difficulties, the helicopter will be the only way of knowing exactly what people need.

"The real real issue is to determine what sort of real need is required here, it's not just going out there and trying to feed everybody, no."

The Milne Bay provincial police Commander Joseph Morehare.