VOLCANO MONITORING EQUIPMENT STOLEN IN PNG

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By Elizabeth Vuvu

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Jan. 4) - Vandalism and theft of vital scientific equipments installed to monitor activities of Mt Gabuna in West New Britain has now placed people living in the vicinity of the active volcano at great risk.

A frustrated director of the disaster office, Lieutenant Colonel Peter Baki, revealed this yesterday.

He said the equipment installed at Garu Plantation were vandalized and stolen by very irresponsible and careless individuals.

He said to make matters worse people living near the station had not been cooperative in providing information to identify the culprits.

Lieutenant Baki said the Kimbe volcano observatory had noticed that the machine was not transmitting data to the disaster office in Kimbe since the middle of last month.

An on-site inspection discovered that the station was vandalized with stolen items comprising of one seismic computer, two solar panels, one solar battery and the metal box that houses the seismic computer.

"Mt Gabuna is an active volcano (stage one) waiting to erupt and has not been downgraded by scientists and as such, we must not be complacent and take things for granted. The volcano may erupt any time," he said.

Baki said the disaster office’s ability to monitor the activities of Mt Gabuna and send reports to the Rabaul volcano observatory in order to predict an eruption had now been greatly reduced.

"We apologize to the people living in the danger zones that we might not be able to warn them in time of an impending eruption," Baki said.

He said it was unfortunate that these very vital and expensive equipments donated to them by foreign scientific donor organizations and such practice may affect future assistance from such organizations.

He said WNB was a disaster prone province and they needed all the help they could get to reduce the effect of disasters.

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