12 Jan 2009

Oro villagers reel from sea swells in PNG

3:36 pm on 12 January 2009

Villagers along the coast of Oro Province in Papua New Guinea have been abandoning their homes for higher ground since Friday after witnessing swelling seas and high tides which continue to hit.

The Post Courier newspaper says unconfirmed reports received from the province indicate several houses had been washed away.

Several residents who braved the rising swells to reach Popondetta in dinghies said yesterday that Ope and Katuna villages in in Ambasi are among the worst affected areas.

Local reports said the sea level is continuing to rise, forcing people to take refuge on higher ground.

PNG's National Disaster had warned residents of communities in coastal parts of the threat of king tides coinciding with low pressure weather systems.

Tens of thousands of people were estimated to have been affected by waves which swamped the coasts of the northern provinces last month, destroying and washing away homes and devastating crops.