PNG RESCUES 1,500 PEOPLE FROM VOLCANIC ISLAND

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By Bonney Bonsella

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Dec. 1) – More than 1,500 people from six villages on Manam Island have been resettled on the Papua New Guinea mainland in the first two phases of evacuation in the wake of a disastrous volcanic eruption.

The rest of the Island's population from eleven villages will be evacuated in the next two phases.

The person in charge of administration of Manam evacuation operations Andrew Ariako said the villages of Boakure 1 and 2, Abaria ,Warisi and the two Kolang villagers have already been resettled since the evacuation started last Sunday.

The former premier said Lutheran Shipping barge, Riverside Gordon has been engaged to complete the exercise of moving more than 9,467 population of Manam Island in 14 days.

The cost under the 14-day evacuation exercise is at K19,000 per day or K266, 000 in total.

The Disaster Office in Madang has also budgeted the same amount to return the displaced people back to the Island if the situation improves in six months.

The provincial government has allocated three plantations in Bogia, Potsdam, Asuramba and Mangem to resettle the displaced people.

Madang administrator Robert Yass has engaged 33 public servants from Madang to assist in the Manam Evacuation Operation.

The officers were engaged from different divisions of the administration to facilitate the operations.

According to Mr Yass, the officers will be divided into four groups of six and assigned to each village in the care centres.

Meanwhile, a provincial government official has expressed concern about the canvas shelters distributed for the resettlement of the volcano- stricken Manam Islanders.

The official said the canvas shelters are only for casual use and not for a long-term benefit to the islanders.

The official said the K90 canvasses are for casual use and cannot stand up to windy conditions and will break very easily.

With the current rainy season, the officer who wanted to remain anonymous is concerned the shelters at care centres will become a problem for the thousands of Manam islanders who will be resettled on the mainland.

December 2, 2004

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