Sunday, May 27, 2007
Papua New Guinea flee volcano eruption!
There were no reports from the island of casualties, but sea surges reportedly destroyed four houses and a boat following Saturday's eruption, Morobe Province disaster and emergency director Roy Kamen said today.
Around 1500 to 2000 people from two villages had moved to higher ground for fear of tsunamis and locals were too afraid to travel by sea, he said.
"They reported waves and the level of the sea rising," Mr Kamen said.
"They still hear rumbling noises and see smoke coming out of the island and had a few tremors last night."
The islands lie between the PNG mainland and the island of New Britain.
Disaster officials had hoped to fly to the islands by helicopter today to assess the situation but no aircraft with floats for flying over the sea were available, Mr Kamen said.
The Rabaul Volcanological Observatory and the Geophysical Observatory in Port Moresby did not pick up indicative seismic activity from the eruption on their equipment.
Minor eruptions occurred on the 140m high uninhabited Ritter Island in 1972 and 1974.
In 1888 half the island collapsed in an eruption that triggered massive tsunamis that claimed an estimated 3000 lives on surroundings islands and the PNG mainland.
On April 2 this year an 8.1 magnitude quake triggered a tsunami in the northwest Solomon Islands that killed 52 people and left thousands homeless.
Many are still camped on higher ground above their destroyed seaside homes.
Aftershock quakes measuring above 5.0 magnitude continue to shake the region.