25 Feb 2005

PNG's New Ireland province faces food and water shortage

4:39 pm on 25 February 2005

Authorities in Papua New Guinea say parts of New Ireland need urgent assistance because of a food and water shortage.

Last month, the Noipuas area was hit by severe flooding which destroyed food gardens and water wells.

At least 11 homes were washed away and the local Cocoa industry has been devastated, with more than 3,000 cocoa trees being destroyed.

The Local Level Government President, Akim Lailai, says although there have been no casualties reported the situation will get worse because water sources are pollutted by dead animals and mud.

"At the moment I think there is a need for some urgent attention, for plastic tanks to get water and food. It's been almost two weeks now so I think it's come to the stage where we need some assistance."

The local Red Cross has already declared the area a disaster zone, but Mr Lailai says the national government will only act once a provincial report has been compiled.