6 May 2005

Officials in PNG's West New Britain set out to check erupting volcano

12:43 pm on 6 May 2005

A volcano in Papua New Guinea's West New Britain province is erupting, putting thousands of people in the surrounding area at risk.

The local disaster management office says villages within a 20 kilometre radius of Mount Langila are reporting heavy ashfalls.

The office's director, Major Paul Kaliop, says he's already taking action.

"Officials from the West New Britain provincial administration will be travelling by boat today, and it'll take about a day to get there. Their job is mainly to do an initial assessment of the situation, you know, try to establish what are the extent, if there are any damages, what populations are worst affected."

Major Kaliop says he's communicating with the assessment team through VHF two-way radio, as there's no road to the Gloucester area, and airstrips are all disused.

Mount Langila burst into life on Wednesday after a long period of relative quiet.