MOUNT PAGO, WEST NEW BRITAIN VOLCANO DANGER NOT OVER

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (September 16, 2002 - Post-Courier/PINA Nius Online)---Mount Pago in Papua New Guinea's West New Britain could continue erupting for 22 years if it follows what it did from 1911 to 1933, the provincial administrator said.

It is one of four very active volcanoes in the resource-rich island province, which has 27 volcanoes altogether.

Currently, only Mount Ulawun -- reputed to be one of the six most dangerous volcanoes in the world -- has a seismic station. This is monitored from the Rabaul Observatory in East New Britain.

West New Britain Administrator William Padio made the comments while highlighting the ring of danger in this province.

But that concern will be rectified over the next four weeks, he said, with the arrival last week of an American-based rapid response team.

About K 500,000 (US$ 128,400) worth of seismic station equipment will arrive by ship soon and the team plans to set up a monitoring station in West New Britain.

The team of experts from the U.S. Geological Survey will work with their Papua New Guinea counterparts to install seismic stations, not only on Mount Pago, but on other volcanoes as well.

The concern follows the latest eruption of Mount Pago, causing the evacuation of local villagers, closure of schools, and damage to crops.

The equipment valued over K 500,000 (US$ 128,400) will be installed together with the K 250,000 (US$ 64,200) worth of equipment from the Japanese government.

"Out of those 27, four of those volcanoes are in Bialla, including one under the sea at Lolobau," Mr. Padio said, naming other Bialla ones as Bamus, Hargy and Ulawun.

He said that on a worldwide assessment, based on proximity to population, danger to investments and potential devastation, "Ulawun (Bialla) is classed as one of the six most dangerous volcanoes in the world.

"Ulawun is a perfect cone with a hump which faces southeast (inland), which means that when Ulawun erupts it’s not just going to blow its top off, it’s going to crack downwards and the top half is going to slide into the sea.

"That is going to cause tsunamis -- huge waves that will wash up as much as 20 meters (66 feet) above sea level all along the coast."

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

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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