16 Apr 2008

PNG hospitals alarmed over road blockade

1:23 pm on 16 April 2008

There are fears that hospitals in the Papua New Guinea Highlands will run out of key supplies within days after a massive slip blocked the vital Highlands Highway at the weekend.

The landslide, which left hundreds homeless near Kundiawa in Simbu Province, has isolated four Highlands provinces dependent on the road for food and fuel supplies.

The government has declared a natural disaster zone on the Okuk Highway, at Gera, outside Kundiawa.

Hospitals in the Enga, Simbu, Eastern and Southern Highlands Provinces now fear vital oxygen and other gas supplies will run out within days.

Enga Province's Mt Hagen Hospital Medical Services Director Dr Michael Dokup said lives were at risk as every hospital in the region was affected by the landslip.

He says they have two days of gas left.

The Transport Minister Don Poyle, who has surveyed the destruction, says a state of emergency should be declared because it affects four provinces and vital mining and oil fields.

Roading authorities believe it will take a month before the road is passable again.