PNG volcano evacuees to be moved to mainland

6:32 pm on 9 January 2018

Local authorities in Papua New Guinea's East Sepik province say plans are under way for longer term resettlement of evacuees from Kadovar Island.

The erupting Kadovar Island

The erupting Kadovar Island Photo: East Sepik Provincial Government

The island is said to be at least two years from being habitable following ash fall fom a volcanic eruption.

Kadovar's entire population of 691 people was moved to neighbouring islands over the weekend following intensification of the eruption which began on Friday.

East Sepik's acting provincial administrator Richard Kombo said resettlement plans were being revived from the 2015 eruption on nearby Mannam Island.

He said the people of Kadovar would likely move to the town of Wewak for the next six months while land was readied.

"The relocation will be around the vicinity of the Sepik River delta," said Mr Kombo.

"Currently they are relocated and they are living with villagers and clans at the local islands but they can't live there forever," he said.

"So we have to come up with a plan quickly. I think it will be within the next six months for us to plan and relocate."

Kadovar, which is part of the Schouten Islands group, is about 30 kilometres from the mouth of the Sepik River on the mainland.

Kadovar Island covered in ash

Kadovar Island covered in ash Photo: East Sepik Provincial Government

Meanwhile, PNG Air cancelled flights into Boram airport in Wewak on Monday due to an ash cloud from the eruption.

The newspaper the National reported the cloud had drifted west towards Wewak following a change in wind direction.

PNG Air acting chief executive Craig Chapple said the cloud was tracking north-east away from the mainland over the weekend but turned on Sunday night.

Mr Chapple said flights had been suspended until the ash cloud moved away.

He said volcanic ash was very fine and could damage aircraft engines and other systems, as well making windscreens opaque.

Wewak MP Kevin Isisfu told the National that relevant government agencies had set up on nearby Ruprup Island to monitor the situation and to help the evacuees.