800 EVACUATED FROM VOLCANIC MANAM IN PNG

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By Damaris Minikula

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Feb. 3) - More than 800 people from Manam Island in Papua New Guinea’s Madang province were evacuated to Bogia yesterday.

On Monday, the government-chartered ship Motuan Chief evacuated 529 people from Baliau village. The vessel did another trip to the island yesterday.

The evacuation was ordered after the Manam volcano erupted again last Thursday. Ash and rocks thrown out from the blast killed one man, injured many, and caused extensive damage to the island.

Authorities have decided that the inhabitants of Manam will now be permanently be relocated to the mainland.

Lands Minister Dr. Puka Temu commended the PNGDF contingent deployed under the code name "Operation Wali Durua" for its prompt actions to receive the Manam people on Bogia.

Dr. Temu and former Chief Justice Sir Arnold Amet, who is from the area, are currently in Bogia visiting the care centres. Temu has urged all government and non-government agencies involved in the disaster operation to "put their heads together" and properly coordinate and deliver the required service to the Manam settlers in the care centers.

"The message is clear. There is lack of effective coordination and communication on the ground by all the agencies involved with the disaster."

"Let us rapidly move on this weakness because the bottom line of this operation is our people who are affected," Minister Temu said.

Care center officials have been accused of selling food and materials meant for the displaced people, leading to a fight which resulted in three people being hospitalized and a number of youths arrested and charged for assault.

School children from Manam are also in danger of missing out on school this year because of lack of infrastructure at the care centers.

February 4, 2005

The National: www.thenational.com.pg/

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