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Crisis on New Hanover island, New Ireland province

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, August 6, 2009) – More than 4,000 people are homeless after severe flooding and landslides destroyed their homes in the West and South Lavongai areas of New Hanover in New Ireland Province last week.

It has been described as the worst disaster to hit New Hanover Island unlike the king tides which had only affected people living along the coasts. The flooding and landslips occurred last week after frequent rain in the area which saw more than 10 rivers bursting their banks.

Food gardens and cash crops were also destroyed and domestic animals such as chickens and pigs were either washed away or buried in the landslides. The disaster has also contaminated all drinking water sources that people rely on.

The Red Cross branch in Kavieng has started distributing shelter supplies and utensils to the affected people in the 18 villages.

The New Ireland disaster office will have to confirm all statistics before relief supplies can be sent to those affected this weekend.

Director of Emergency, Security and Intelligence Levi Amos said it was fortunate the disaster occurred at around 11am that day. "If it had occurred at night, a lot of lives would have been lost," he said.

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