5 Sep 2009

State of emergency declaration urged in PNG

9:03 am on 5 September 2009

The Papua New Guinea government is being urged to declare a state of emergency immediately as the death toll from epidemics in a remote province rises to more than 400 people.

Morobe province governor Luther Wenge says eye witnesses reports almost 300 people have now died from an outbreak of flu and dysentry in the district of Menyamya.

Radio New Zealand International reports another 114 people have died from cholera in the coastal villages of Tewai-Siassi.

Health minister Sasa Zibe says he wants to declare a state of emergency, but does not yet have enough information from officials to do so.

However, Mr Wenge says a state of emergency must be declared immediately so people can be treated.

He says the provincial government has no money to cope with the epidemics as its already spent it on other disasters in the province.