PNG responds to West New Britain eruption

Pacific Islands Development Program/East-West Center
With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies/University of Hawai'i

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, June 12) - Relief supplies have started flowing in for people affected by the continuing eruption of Mt Langila in Cape Gloucester district, in the Papua New Guinea province of West New Britain.

The first shipment of relief supplies left Kimbe for Cape Gloucester yesterday afternoon while PNG Red Cross yesterday packed its first relief supplies to be sent for the volcano victims.

Reports from the West New Britain disaster office indicate that about 2,500 to 3,500 people are affected, mainly by ashfall from the volcano eruption.

Office director Major Paul Kaliop, who visited those affected on Monday with West New Britain Governor Clement Nakmai, acting West New Britain administrator Willie Edo, and Cape Gloucester LLG president Leonard Kataka, said volcanic activity has remained the same since last week.

Major Kaliop said voluntary evacuation has been taking place in some of the areas affected. He said few details are known due to communications difficulties between the district and Kimbe.

He said Sagsag Health Centre has reportedly taken in 150 people while the figure for Gloucester station could not be confirmed.

He said majority of the people are still living in their villages.

He said Gloucester Central Disaster Committee, a local disaster committee formed by the Gloucester LLG, has conducted a survey for a proposed care centre site at Sagsag.

Meanwhile, the PNG Red Cross Society said relief was in response to an assessment conducted by its officer Gima Kila on the current situation in Cape Gloucester.

PNGRC organized volunteers from Koki and Kesi settlements to help in the packing of tarpaulins and water containers to be airfreight to Hoskins, which would then be transported to Cape Gloucester for distribution to those affected.

This is not the first time PNG Red Cross has come to assist disaster-affected people. PNGRC also organized and distributed relief items to volcano victims from Manam Island, who are now living in care centers.