25 Oct 2004

Several thousand residents moved to safety after volcanic eruption in PNG

8:30 pm on 25 October 2004

A volcano has erupted in northern Papua New Guinea, raising concerns for the safety of thousands of villagers.

Mount Iabu on the northern PNG island of Manam started throwing up lava and ash over the weekend, prompting authorities to advise nearly 3,000 villagers to move to safer parts of the island.

A spokesman for the National Disaster Management Office said there had been no reports of casualties but the island remained on a state of high alert with fears of further eruptions in the coming days.

He said the eruption had sent thick clouds of smoke 6,000 metres into the air and lava flowing into the surrounding sea.

Mount Iabu is situated about 100km from the resort town of Madang in the country's north-west.

The Inter-Government Relations Minister, Sir Peter Barter, who is a Madang resident, flew his helicopter over Manam.

He says a one-kilometre-wide section of the mountain had blown out, forcing lava to flow to the sea around the island.