State funeral in Vanuatu for Minister of Infrastructure and Public Utilities

Updated at 5:25 am on 12 December 2012

Vanuatu's parliament is holding a state funeral today for the Minister of Infrastructure and Public Utilities and MP for Tanna, Harry Iauko, who died suddenly in Santo yesterday.

Mr Iauko was rushed to Northern Provincial Hospital on Tuesday morning from a hotel in Luganville and was pronounced dead a short time later.

Johnny Blades reports.

"As a state funeral begins this morning at Vanuatu's parliament grounds, few details are known about Harry Iauko's sudden death. A spokesman from the office of Vanuatu's Prime Minister Sato Kilman says Mr Iauko's death is believed to have stemmed from complications of having pneumonia. The leader of the Iauko Group political party was a central figure in the recent formation of the Kilman government. Sources within parliament suggest his health had been under strain during this time. The Tanna leader's body was flown to Port Vila last night and received by his fellow cabinet ministers for a special ceremony. Following today's state funeral at parliament house, the body will be returned to Tanna for burial."

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