Manam Islanders warned of danger from latest eruption

2:28 pm on 25 January 2019

Vulcanologists in Papua New Guinea are warning Manam Islanders to take care following a large eruption this week.

Volcanic activity intensified on Wednesday when the island's Digicel tower was toppled by the eruption, cutting communication to Manam.

A picture of a flash of lava from the erupting volcano on Manam Island, Papua New Guinea. The island is one of the country's most active volcanoes.

The Manam volcano erupting in 2018. Photo: Supplied / Scott Waide

According to the United States Geological Survey, an earthquake was observed just northeast of the volcano approximately two hours before the start of the volcanic eruption.

Steve Saunders, the principal geodetic surveyor at PNG's Rabaul Volcano Observatory, said Manam islanders need to be aware of the danger, particularly in the valleys.

He said the latest eruption appears to continue the typical pattern since the volcano began an ongoing series of eruptions back in August last year.

"In past experience when we have that sort of activity they tend to get bigger. The eruption yesterday was large but I'm not sure it was substantially larger than the ones in the past few months but the fact is because of past experience the eruptions can get bigger and it's a small island with a big population, so we have to warn people to be careful, especially in some of the valleys where flows come down, pyroclastic flows etc."

The Post Courier reported the Manam Resettlement Authority as saying late Thursday that there had been continuous eruptions since the previous day.

The Authority noted very high temperatures caused by activity and that "water sources and food gardens were completely destroyed".

It has indicated an urgent need for a temporary shelter in Bogia on PNG's mainland, and a requirement for a boat to evacuate Manam Islanders.

The Manam volcano's activity has been dynamic for months.

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