10 Jun 2005

Help underway for PNG islanders hit by volcano eruption

3:05 pm on 10 June 2005

Relief supplies are on their way to villages where volcanic ash has fallen after the eruption of Mt Langila on the island of New Britain in Papua New Guinea.

An official says more than 2,000 villagers around Kilenge and Cape Gloucester on the island's western end have had their food crops covered and water supplies contaminated by falling ash.

The Kilenge Health Centre has reported numerous cases of respiratory problems, sore eyes and skin rashes since the increase in volcanic activity began in April.

A shipment of relief supplies left the West New Britain provincial capital of Kimbe for Cape Gloucester yesterday and the PNG Red Cross Society was also preparing a shipment of supplies from Port Moresby.

PNG is a hotspot for volcanic activity with Mt Tavurvur on the eastern end of New Britain continuing to send ash plumes across the nearby town of Rabaul, which was decimated by a major eruption in 1994.

Meanwhile thousands of Manam Islanders remain in plantation care centres on the PNG mainland's north coast after the eruption of their island's volcano in October last year forced their evacuation.