PNG TO RESETTLE 4,000 FROM MOUNT PAGO VOLCANO ASH ZONE

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (September 4, 2002 – Radio Australia)---Officials in Papua New Guinea say toxic ash raining down on farmland around Mount Pago volcano for a month is making the area uninhabitable.

They say up to 4,000 people will have to find new homes.

The chairman of the provincial disaster committee, William Padio, says the area most affected extends for 10 kilometers (six miles) from the volcano through a 45-degree arc.

The volcano on New Britain Island is spewing fine silicone ash, suffocating and poisoning trees in local palm oil and coconut plantations.

Mount Pago began erupting on August 5th.

Australia, New Zealand and Japan have contributed emergency assistance and seismological monitoring equipment and researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey are due to arrive to help determine whether there is a risk of a serious eruption.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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