21 Sep 2007

Looters exploit fire chaos in PNG's Mt Hagen

2:04 pm on 21 September 2007

Papua New Guinea police fired warning shots as looters ransacked Asian shops after fires broke out in the highlands town of Mt Hagen.

As ill-equipped firefighters struggled to control blazes in two buildings, crowds of looters moved in to rob the burning buildings and other nearby shops.

Police fired warning shots and teargas as they engaged in running fights with stone-throwing looters.

After about three hours, the fires and the looting were brought under control.

The president of the Mt Hagen Chamber of Commerce, Kevin Murphy, said the fire service did the best it could but it was poorly-equipped and needed proper support from the city council and provincial government.