29 Nov 2004

Mass evacuation of villagers from Papua New Guinea's Manam island due to volcanic threat.

3:20 pm on 29 November 2004

The evacuation of villagers from Papua New Guinea's Manam Island is continuing, as the island's volcano continues erupting.

Provincial and emergency authorities began evacuating the 9,000 people on the weekend, using a barge from the island to care centres on Bogia, on the north coast of Madang, after two people died from ash-related causes.

A vulcanologist, Herman Patia says the volcano began erupting last month, pouring ash and scoria onto villages and food crops and contaminating water sources.

Ash is two to three metres deep in some places.

Mr Patia says a major eruption from the volcano is still a possibility, especially after it began erupting again last week, and worsened on Friday.

"Oh its very serious. Most of the villagers on the from the east to the north east, houses have collapsed as a result of heavy ash and scoria fall during the past week."

Herman Patia, a vulcanologist from the Rabaul Volcanological Observatory.

Local authorities say some of the evacuees might not be able to return for years and others will have to be permanently resettled on the mainland.