21 Aug 2002

PNG volcanic eruption victims face disease threat

1:49 pm on 21 August 2002

Victims of Papua New Guinea's Mt Pago volcanic eruption in West New Britain are at risk of disease because of over-crowding.

A report from a donor team led by the Inter Government Relations Minister, Sir Peter Barter says diseases such as malaria, cholera and typhoid will quickly spread among the 9-thousand villagers who are sheltering in schools with little sanitation.

The report is based on a visit to the care centres by the Australian High Commissioner, a representative from the Japan International Co-operation Agency and will be presented to the government.

The report also said that tribal conflicts in the centres are problematic and that there is a need to ensure that the food provided is safe for consumption.

It is not known how long the villagers will be in the care centres because of the difficulty in predicting the eruption period of the Mt Pago volcano.

The 9-thousand villagers were evacuated from 15 affected villages and have been in the care centres for the last two weeks.