31 Aug 2015

PNG close to declaring highest alert level over drought

2:18 pm on 31 August 2015

The Papua New Guinea National Disaster office may go to its highest alert level, category 5, after unconfirmed reports of five deaths due to drought and frost in Chimbu Province.

The Post Courier reports that seventeen districts, mostly in Highlands provinces, are currently on a category 4 alert.

The office says more than two million people - one-quarter of PNG's population - are now being affected by the extreme weather.

The National Disaster Committee chairman Dixon Guina, and the head of the National Disaster Office, Martin Mose, says there is now a real threat that some provinces are moving toward category 5.

Papua New Guinea Highlands affected by drought.

Photo: Supplied

So far the PNG Government has signalled it has allocated more than $US10 million dollars in aid.

Weather forecasters predict much less rainfall nationwide over the next six months and temperatures to drop by two degrees in frost susceptible areas.

The people in all the affected districts have been warned to adhere to strict instructions, with anyone caught burning or making bush fires likely to be arrested.

Mr Guina says the predicted El Nino will be much more severe than that experienced in 1997.

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