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By Bonney Bonsella

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Dec. 5) – The volcanic eruption on Manam Island in Papua New Guinea’s Madang province has so far claimed five lives – two elderly women and three children between the ages of 5 and 13.

The coordinator of the Manam evacuation exercise, Camillus Dugumi, confirmed the deaths, adding that the deaths were linked to respiratory complications resulting from inhaling volcanic ash and dust.

Mr Dugumi, who is also the district health programme manager, said one of the deaths was that of an elderly women from Bokure village recorded early last week at the Bogia District hospital.

The women died after being admitted to the hospital for respiratory complications.

One child, a little boy, died on Friday at the Asuramba care centre after suffering pneumonia.

Three others – an adult women and two other children – had died during earlier volcanic activity on Manam.

Five people from Dugulaba village were also saved from mudflows in the early hours of Thursday last week.

All survivors were treated for shock with an elderly women also treated for minor injuries.

A boy from Kuluguma village, Naboarui Rimsiki sustained head and leg injuries shortly after the village of more the 976 inhabitants was evacuated to Bogia on Wednesday morning.

The boy received the injuries after falling off a moving vehicle transporting the villagers to the Bogia Catholic mission school.

Meanwhile, the fragile issue of land that has continued to hamper the successful resettlement exercise of the volcano-stricken Manam Islanders in the Madang province will finally be addressed under a new memorandum of agreement.

The MOA was put in place by the Madang Provincial Government in a bid to get aggrieved parties wrangling over land issues relating to three State-owned plantations of Asuramba, Potsdam and Magem to set them aside, at least for the time being to accommodate a speedy resettlement of the displaced Manam islanders.

The three plantations were bought off from the lessee in 1995 for K1.25 million following a National Executive Council decision for the purpose of resettlement of Manam Islanders displaced by volcanic activity.

Coordinator Mr Dugumi said the MOA will be signed by landowners’ representatives from the communities around the plantations of Potsdam, Asuramba and Magem and chiefs representing Manam Islanders, president of the Iabu LLG, Governor James Yali, administrator Robert Yass and Bogia District administrator Nigel Mes

December 6, 2004

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