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Sir Peter Barter

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Oct. 26) - Food, water and medical supplies are becoming the major concern for people on Papua New Guinea’s Manam Island following a major volcanic eruption this week.

Inter Government Relations Minister Sir Peter Barter, who flew two vulcanologists to the island yesterday, said residents were concerned about the lack of action by the Disaster and Emergency Services in responding to the catastrophe.

Food gardens have been destroyed or buried, while drinking water has also been contaminated.

The Manam volcano was still spewing smoke yesterday.

The center said activities have subsided since the eruption on Sunday, and the ash being emitted was affecting those in its path, including the Being, Iassa, Kuluguma, Boda and Baliau Villages.

For safety reasons, people there are currently gathered at the Being Catholic Mission Station located northwest of the island.

All water tanks in Biem, Ruprup, and Katawar Islands were covered by ash and there is currently no water available on these islands.

As of Monday, the provincial disaster committee had transported 200 20-litre containers that were filled up at Bogia, before being shipped across to Manam by the Iabu Council boat.

Thirty-two tarpaulins were also supplied together with the water containers.

Peter yesterday flew Irma Ikarai and John Savua from the Rabaul Volcanolgy Observatory to Manam to inspect the volcanic activity.

They visited Bien Catholic Mission Station and gathered information and material discharged from the eruption.

The people told Peter and the team that their gardens are covered in up to volcanic ash, banana trees have been destroyed and there is a critical shortage of food.

Peter said the volcano was continuing to erupt and felt that this could go on for some time, and urged people to keep out of valleys.

The Director-General of the NDES Eric Ani will today hold talks with the volcanologists, the Provincial Disaster Office as well as the administrator to see how quickly the Provincial and National Disaster office can get relief supplies and water containers to the island.

October 27, 2004

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