1 Jul 2019

PNG volcano-affected communities wait on relief, govt help

6:45 pm on 1 July 2019

Thousands of people continue to wait for relief supplies five days after Mt Ulawun's volcanic eruption in Papua New Guinea.

Mt Ulawun.

Mt Ulawun. Photo: Eroli Tamara

The provincial government in West New Britain says up to 15,000 people have been displaced by the short but large eruption of the volcano on Wednesday.

The governor, Francis Maneke, said people forced to flee are in need of food, water and shelter.

He said while some assistance is starting to reach the affected area, they're being hampered by an ash-coated road and an airport that's been forced to close.

Mr Maneke said the region's palm oil crop has also been devastated, which was what many of the people relied on for income.

"Basically the ash is falling over the oil palm trees and also food gardens. That is why people are deserting their houses and their villages. It's going to take some time to really come back."

Meanwhile, PNG's Prime Minister, James Marape, visited the affected region on Sunday and committed an initial US$1.5 million to the relief response.

The military has also been deployed to help, although Mr Maneke said they're yet to arrive.

Evacuation on Manam

Meanwhile, about 100 people have been evacuated after the volcano on Papua New Guinea's Manam Island erupted again.

The volcano has been erupting in regular bursts since last August.

Steve Saunders, from the Rabaul Volcano Observatory, said it erupted against last Friday, covering the island in ash.

He said most people who live on the island are still on the mainland after the last eruption in January, but some had returned.

"A few families had gone back and there was about 100 people in the affected area, but they've moved away again," he said.

Manam is about 700 kilometres east of Mt Ulawun.

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