PNG CARGO CULT INTERCEPTS RELIEF SUPPLIES FOR ORO

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Dec. 10) – Members of a Papua New Guinea sectarian movement are hindering the movement of relief supplies in the disaster stricken Oro Province.

Police and military officers were sent to the North Coast area on Saturday to investigate complaints from the locals and to arrest the ringleaders.

Reports received from the Emergency Centre in Popondetta yesterday stated that the members of the cult groups continued to claim that the relief supplies distributed to the area were cargo meant for them by their ancestors.

They also claimed supplies arriving were cargo they had been long waiting for and was not meant for non-movement members.

A senior PNGDF officer who was reluctant to have his name revealed yesterday said anyone who was hindering and becoming an obstacle to the relief efforts will face the full force of the law.

He said the members of the cult stopped volunteers at Begabari village, in the inlands of the Ambasi area, and argued with the volunteers over the relief supplies.

He said people were claiming the goods being delivered to them were the work of the cult.

Meanwhile, provincial logistics officer Trevor Magei confirmed yesterday that all relief supplies distribution last Friday and Saturday were grounded because helicopters were not available due to mechanical problems.

He said only yesterday they were able to airlift much of the supplies after National Disaster Services chartered three helicopters, two from Hevilift and one from Islands Aviation. AusAID provided a fourth.

"Today the situation does not get any better, meaning we will again be grounding the choppers due to shortage of fuel," Mr Magei said.

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