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PNG: Floods take heavy toll in Bougainville

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PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT
Pacific Islands Development Program/East-West Center
With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies/University of Hawai'i
PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Aug. 23) -- Some 13,000 people in Siwai, South Bougainville and many more in Central Bougainville are struggling with the aftermath of severe floods that washed away crops and animals.

Officials say more than 1,329 people in Siwai urgently need help with an additional 1,164 people from along the coast badly affected by the floods.

Road links have been closed from the outside world, causing all stores to run short of goods. Relief supplies from Bougainville have been used and many families are reported going hungry.

In Vito, Central Bougainville people need urgent technical assistance to stem a flooding river that washed away an elementary school and a house. The only aid post was also at risk of being washed away. But reports from the area were sketchy.

Furthermore, information on the number of houses washed away and casualties, if any, was not clear.

An assessment team comprising Bougainville Administration officials Ian Job (local level council) John Kusivai (health), Wendy Sawa (economic services), Joyceline Lessie (economic services), Moses Hilu (National Agriculture and Quarantine Inspection Authority (NAQIA) and Martin Terea,, of the information office, returned from a visit to the affected areas late on Sunday night.

The team went to assess the physical extent of the damage, work out the cost of the damage and assess the general situation in the area.

According to the officials, classes for all students in Siwai (Monoitu, Harinai and Tonu schools) have been suspended because all three constituencies -- Ramu, Kopii and Motuna/ Huyono,Tokonutui -- have been cut off from the outside world. The team told the Post-Courier basic medical supplies was an immediate need, including water.

The officials said there were five rivers in Siwai -- Sirivai, Loviai, Mivo and Mopiai -- that were very dangerous, including 12 culverts in Buin and Siwai that were impassable.

Villages affected included Mamagota, Aitera, Pihanawa, Moronei, Duisei, Kunnu, Kimuku, Kokui, Tonnui and Panakei.

The team could not visit all villages because most areas were only accessible from the air.

A full report on the situation is expected today.