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By Philip Dowa

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Jan. 20) – Two inmates at the Buimo Jail in Morobe province are confirmed dead and other prisoners are being treated at Angau Memorial Hospital for malaria and typhoid.

Authorities from Angau Hospital confirmed that the bodies of the two prisoners who died last week are at the morgue.

Up to a dozen prisoners were admitted to the hospital ward and many others are being treated at the out patients department as well as at the jail clinic.

The deceased were identified as Asa Bedi Kau from Morobe province and Kurare Aria from the Eastern Highlands, both inmates in their mid 20s.

Prison commandant Samson Jaro could not be reached, as it is understood that he is being transferred out but an officer at his office confirmed the deaths yesterday.

He could not confirm the causes but believed it might have to do with overcrowding or the food that the prisoners are eating.

The deaths revive the horror of last year when four prisoners died suddenly from what a mortem report later confirmed as viral myocarditis or a virus attack of the muscles of the heart, triggering a heart attack.

A medical report card for one of the recent deaths, Kau, stated that he was suffering from severe diarrhea and it described him as being "weak and sick-looking".

The same observation was reported in the earlier deaths last year.

Two sick prisoners at Angau, Malcom Tupui from East Sepik province and Jerry Deme from Morobe province blamed the typhoid outbreak on the food at the prison.

The two men were admitted to the hospital ward for dysentery and were released last week to return to the prison camp.

Following the deaths last year, Morobe Governor Luther Wenge threatened in Parliament to open the prison gates and release all the prisoners.

He subsequently took out a court order to transfer all the prisoners out of Buimo, leaving only 150. There was to be partial closure of the prison for a period of four years until the faults at the prison were corrected.

The Correctional Institutional Service and the Morobe Provincial Government were to renovate and maintain the current buildings or build new buildings, cellblocks, kitchen and the mess.

At the time of the deaths, there were some 700 prisoners in an institution that the colonial administration had built for only 300.

Despite the court order and the transfer of prisoners, the prison population had risen to 500 as of last week.

January 21, 2004

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