30 Nov 2004

PNG disaster services under attack after response to Manam volcanic eruption

7:39 pm on 30 November 2004

The government in Papua New Guinea's Madang province says disaster services were ill-prepared for emergency mass evacuations off Manam Island.

Authorities are evacuating 9,000 people off the island, after the volcano threatened a major eruption.

The volcano, which began erupting a month ago, emitting ash and scoria on villages, ruining food crops and contaminating water sources, intensified last week.

Governor James Yali's personal assistant, Michael Ururu, says so far, six thousand people have been evacuated to care centres on the mainland.

But Mr Ururu says there are problems with housing so many evacuees.

"Two thirds have been evacuated already, but the problem is now where to settle them, and what to have above their heads. At this time the bedding is not available to them and shelter is the thing they really need and a water supply."

Mr Ururu says he blames insufficient funds for the lack of emergency provisions, and is appealing to international donors for help.