Manam explodes again, locals run for their lives

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THE Manam Volcano in Madang erupted on Friday morning, sending some 3,600 villagers scurrying for cover and safety.

It was the second volcano to erupt in Papua New Guinea in 48 hours. On Wednesday morning, Mt Ulawun exploded, forcing the evacuation of 15,000 people and affecting 120,000 villagers in Bialla, West New Britain.

Scoria, the size of adult fists, spewed from the volcano and rained on villages with thick black volcanic ash.

The scoria were also found floating in the sea more than 1km from the shore of Manam Island. Locals and two journalists who rushed to the scene to report the eruption were hit by scoria grains while aboard a dinghy on the way to the island at 4pm Friday.

Dugulava community leader and Kukurai Paul Maburau said the volcano spewed white ashes in the past six eruptions since Aug 25.

“This time, we are blanketed by dark brown dust and scoria,” he added.

“The scoria hit hard on trees, ripping of coconut leaves and fruit trees. The ground on the island was littered with green leaves and the scoria was between 10cm and 15cm thick.

Boda Village leader Kenny Boli said the volcanic eruption rocked Yassa, Kuluguma, Boda and Bailau.

Boli said Bailau was the most populated with 2,376 people from 588 households, Kuluguma (595 people from 188 households including teachers and health workers at Bieng catholic mission station), Boda (378 people from 140 households) and Yasa (293 people from 72 households). Villages not affected were Dangale (122 people), Kolang (three people), Abaria (five), Warisi (six) , Dugulava (892 people from 247 households), Zogari (421 from 117 households), Waia (103 from 45 households) and Madauri (107 people from 48 households).

The nearby Boisa Island was also polluted by thick black volcanic ash affected 872 people from 287 households.

Maburau said the villagers depended on fruits and nuts for food which were all destroyed by the scoria.

A random physical assessment on the island revealed that the affected villagers were in dire need of food and tents.

The Madang provincial disaster office had remained silent since the volcanic eruption while the provincial government and administration were waiting for a situation report from the Bogia disaster team for a follow-up action.