23 Nov 2007

Unofficial death toll in PNG floods close to 200

3:55 pm on 23 November 2007

The Governor of Oro Province in Papua New Guinea, Suckling Tamanabae, says the unofficial death toll as a result of last week's floods is around 200 with fears more could die of disease or starvation.

He says he is grateful that substantial assistance is now beginning to arrive, with the Australian Air Force providing three Blackhawk helicopters and that the acting Prime Minister, Dr Puka Temu, is visiting the devastated province.

Mr Tamanabae says the latest additions to the death toll came after police returned from a remote part of the province yesterday with reports they had seen the graves of 39 flood victims.

He says the additional helicopters could make all the difference.

"If we have that we will be able to do that. We don't have the foodstuffs as you know - we have been cut off. But if they can deploy that food from either Lae or Port Moresby into the isolated areas , we will be able a lot of starving people immediately."