14 Dec 2004

Manam evacuation may have been too hasty - PNG Cabinet Minister

9:14 pm on 14 December 2004

Papua New Guinea's Inter-Government Relations Minister, Sir Peter Barter, says authorities may have acted too early in calling for a mass evacuation of Manam Island.

The island's volcano began erupting, emitting ash, in October 25th, but Sir Peter says it has now subsided.

He says just over half the population of 9000 have been taken to care centres on the mainland, but he thinks officials may have been too hasty evacuating them.

"I personally believe we may have overreacted on this. I wasn't here at the time, and I'm fairly familiar with the evacuation from the volcano, but I think perhaps they may have moved people out too quickly which has now caused a man made problem, and we're now dealing with that problem."

Sir Peter Barter says there is sufficient food in the camps, but there have been reports of water shortages and people with dysentery problems, due to the lack of sanitation.