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2 dead, 11,000 displaced by flood waters

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Jan. 4, 2012) – In Papua New Guinea (PNG), heavy rain around the country in recent days has claimed two lives, displaced 11, 000 others while the flood waters are threatening homes, food gardens and State assets.

In the Western Highlands, two children were swept away by flood waters and are believed dead in a freak accident on Monday.

Distress relatives told the Post-Courier that on Monday night, the family was returning home from a party and were trying to cross a flooded creek in their mini bus when the road gave way under the vehicle because the flood waters had washed away the culvert bridge.

In Northern Province, the PNG Red Cross has moved in to help more than 11,000 people who were left homeless and are without their food gardens following heavy rain that had flooded river banks. In Chimbu Province, Simbu Governor Fr John Garia reported that the heavy rain has also caused landslides which have cut off the Kundiawa Gembogl road.

In Port Moresby, the rain has poured down starting on New Year’s day and has continued, resulting in flooded drains which have spilled into homes around the city, including the Games Village Police Barracks.

Police families at the barracks fear that their homes will be washed away if the rain continues.

In the Western Highlands disaster, two cousins, both of them students, jumped out of the window and disappeared as the bus carrying family members and relatives plunged into the flooded creek in the Wurup area on the border of Jiwaka and Western Highlands between 7pm and 8pm.

The family was returning home from a party in Ogelbeng outside Mt Hagen when their bus plunged into the raging Lel creek near the three Kona junction. Inside the bus were Maurina Pati, her four children and their paternal grandfather, her brother’s elder son Cedric Moris and a cousin and an aunt.

The family was heading towards the Three Kona market from the commonly known "Feelings Mountain" when the ground under their vehicle gave way over the Lel creek, throwing the vehicle into the raging waters.

Cedric and his cousin broke through the window and jumped out, only to fall into the deep raging waters while the rest of the family floated down creek in the bus. An eye witness who saw the whole incident called for help and locals nearby raced to the scene, swam through the water and rescued the family.

Unfortunately, Cedric who is a grade six student and his cousin, a grade 10 student, could not make it out. The body of the grade six students was recovered by the banks late yesterday while the search continues for the other student, who is believed to have drown as well. The washed out bridge has cut off the Wurup-Ramba Road linking Mount Hagen city.

A distressed Mrs Pati who was at the Mt Hagen General Hospital for treatment with the rest of her family said due to the heavy rain and flooding, they could not see the road ahead.

"There was a lot of water on the road surface. When we were right over the bridge, the ground underneath gave way and we were thrown into the flooded creek in the dark," Mrs Pati said.

Husband Michael Pati was not with his family when the incident occurred. His eldest son was the driver.

Along the highlands highway, heavy rain in the region has caused massive flooding, widen potholes and landslips along the road.

Early yesterday morning, half of the highway near Kugl near Togoba outside Mt Hagen was cut off by a landslip. In the Chimbu Province, lakes have emerged on the road surfaces and the threats of more culvert bridges washed away are real as heavy rain continues.

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