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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Nov. 1) – More than 2,000 people are suffering as a result of the Oct 24 volcanic eruption on Manam Island in Madang province.

Those affected are from the Kuluguma, Boda, Bieng Catholic Mission station, Yassa and Baliau villages.

Their food and vegetable gardens, water wells, cash crops such as vanilla, cocoa and other fruit trees were completely destroyed by the lava and volcanic ash.

The people are still experiencing continuous fall of volcanic dust and flow of lava.

According to Frank Zuccolo, the parish priest at Bieng, men, women and children from the affected Boda, Kuluguma and parts of Baliau villages were without food.

Fr Zuccolo said water is not a problem on the island, as there is water from wells where people can use for washing, cooking and drinking. But he stressed that any assistance from the government should concentrate on rations such as rice, flour, oil, and tinned foods including tents.

Classes at Bieng and Tabele primary schools have been suspended. Grade 8 classes have also been suspended, but students would be allowed to sit for their examinations this week.

The first shipment of relief supplies from the Madang administration and the provincial Disaster and Emergency Services reached Boda and Kuluguma last Wednesday.

Water containers were shipped by MV Labu from Bogia to Bieng.

On Saturday, 600 bags of rice were moved to Bogia to be loaded onto MV Labu bound for Manam, according to the acting director of the provincial Disaster and Emergency Services office, Peter Lavida.

Mr Lavida said the Red Cross in Madang has donated 100 20-litre water containers to be given to families who missed out of the first distribution.

November 2, 2004

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