15 Dec 2008

Coral island inhabitants removed after king tides cause destruction in PNG

4:16 pm on 15 December 2008

The inhabitants of five coral islands in Papua New Guinea's New Ireland province have been evacuated after king tides engulfed their homes.

The tides caused widespread coastal flooding last week in New Ireland, Morobe, Manus, Bougainville, West and East Sepik and Madang Provinces.

At least one child has died and the national government has estimated around 50 000 people have been affected across the seven provinces.

The New Ireland disaster management office's coordinator, Elsie Wambun, says it's unclear how many people are affected in the province in total, but she estimates they are thousands of victims.

She says five small coral islands have been hardest hit.

"Four islands in New Hanover have submerged under water and one island in the Mussau group is also submerged. And the people have been evacuated to Emirau Island and we have a care cenntre there."

Elsie Wambun says they are distributing clean water, food and tarpaulins to the victims.