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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (June 28, 1999 - The National)---PNG will soon have a tsunami hazard mitigation program. It is being developed from the lessons learned during the Aitape disaster that killed over 2,000 persons last year.

The risks posed by tsunami-related disasters will be discussed at a conference being organized for September of this year. Preparations are under way and invitations have been sent to concerned people.

Key personnel who responded to the Aitape tsunami disaster and are involved in rehabilitation work will be available to talk about their activities.

Tsunami experts also will attend the conference, to be held in Madang, to guide PNG participants making recommendations regarding the hazards of tidal waves.

Recommendations from the meeting will be presented to the Government for use in formulating a national tsunami hazard policy.

Spokesman Prof. Hugh Davies, who is the chairman of the National Disaster Awareness and Preparedness Committee (NDAPC), said the conference would also study the impact of the Aitape tsunami disaster.

"We will get people's views and analyze the Aitape disaster and use it to draft a tsunami preparedness policy," said Prof. Davies.

The main objective of the conference is to improve tsunami awareness and preparedness in PNG and the Asia-Pacific region.

Currently, awareness materials on tsunami preparedness are being published to give more information to the public. A videotape also has been produced.

Participants will also discuss ways of developing and strengthening cooperation and communication among Asia-Pacific countries in relation to tsunami hazards.

Organizers aim to help PNG cope with the challenges posed by tsunamis by improving communication networks, information dissemination and good working relationships among organizations and individuals.

Prior to the meeting, tsunami experts will visit the resettlement villages in the Aitape area and explain their findings to the survivors.

The goal of the visit is to educate the people about tidal waves in order for the residents to overcome continued fear and uncertainty.

After the visit, an aerial inspection of the Aitape area will be conducted.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

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