31 Jul 2006

Quakes on PNG's New Britain island ease

2:29 pm on 31 July 2006

Constant earthquakes that prompted the evacuation of more than 1,000 villagers on the Papua New Guinea island of New Britain have eased, raising hopes the evacuees can soon return home.

Strong tremors in early July around a series of volcanoes in the Sulu Range on the island's north coast led to the evacuation of three villages to temporary bush camps on safer ground.

A West New Britain provincial disaster official says the level of seismic activity has dropped off in recent days, indicating the movement of magma beneath the volcanoes is slowing down.

It is hoped the evacuated villagers will be able to return home if scientific assessments indicate a continued decline in activity.