AUSTRALIA CONTINUES TO PROVIDE RELIEF TO PNG

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DROUGHT VICTIMS

CANBERRA, Australia (October 15, 1997 - PACNEWS)---Australia is gearing up for a major relief effort to help the people of Papua New Guinea survive their country's worst drought on record. A detailed assessment says half a million people in PNG face extreme hardship because of the drought, with many already in urgent need of food and water.

There are also serious health concerns. In some districts, typhoid, malaria and diarrhea are said to be rampant. To deal with the emerging health problems, Australia has begun flying in $1.1 million worth of medical supplies, mainly antibiotics and anti-malarial drugs.

In addition, Australia has said it will provide food as required for affected areas.

An Australian Air Force Caribou transport aircraft will be available to fly relief supplies to outlying areas.

A major plan to fight the disaster, based on reports from 13 assessment teams, is due to be completed in Port Moresby on Friday.

Australia is preparing a multi-stage relief operation.

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