Active volcanoes / Aktive vulkaner:

The Manam-people and the eruption

©PNG Post-Courier Online

As Manam smoulders in the Pacific, thousands are stranded in 'critical' conditions, as per
Saturday December 11th, 2004.
Several thousand people remain stranded without adequate food, water or shelter
About 7,900 who have been evacuated are struggling to survive in malaria-infested
emergency care centres with few facilities.
Government officials said yesterday that it could take another four days to rescue the
remaining 2,000 to 3,000 islanders.
They admit they have no way of predicting if there will be another major eruption in that time,
and on Sunday morming, things were getting worse again on the island.

All the houses and gardens in the 16 villages on Manam have been destroyed. The water
sources have been contaminated with ash. The people still there are living under tarpaulins
on the beach, eating little but rotten fruit that has fallen from the trees.

The volcanic activity began on October 24, but that eruption caused little damage because
the wind blew most of the ash and rock out to sea. In mid-November the wind changed
direction and the volcanic debris started causing damage.

Manam islanders covered in ash, stand around their wrecked homes.HEAVY ashfall has rendered gardens and water
sources on Manam Island useless.

© The Post Courier Online

So much ash had fallen on the houses that when the rain came it turned to mud.
As the houses are not very sturdy they just started falling apart.

The evacuation effort was hampered by a lack of adequate ships and insufficient funds to
pay for them. A cargo ship was eventually chartered for £50,000 a week, a huge sum for the
impoverished government, and converted to hold 600 to 700 people. Every few days it has
had to leave the area to collect more fuel.

The situation in the camps was desperate, according to a UNICEF representative.
"These are in a very confined space," he said. "There are no latrines so they have to be built,
but these people have never used latrines so it's a job explaining why it's necessary to use

Many people had started falling ill. Malaria, diarrhoea, respiratory infections, ear and nose
problems and illnesses resulting from drinking contaminated water are the most common

The authorities hope the Manam inhabitants will eventually be able to return to the island.
They will encourage them to grow sweet potatoes at first, as these can bear [fruit] in three
months, and then look at other crops.
From The Guardian

Manam Islanders boading the Motuan Chief in the evacuation exercise.
© Nationalpic by BONNEY BONSELLA

AS THE men, women and children walked to the MV Motuan Chief an elderly man came down, stood at the wharf and looked back towards his Island and began crying. It was the wailing of a man whose heart had been torn out by the fact he would be leaving the place of his ancestors, the graves of his loved ones and the place where he had for all his life called home. He would have to settle on a land that would either be on a temporary basis or for the rest of his life until he closes his eye to say goodbye to the world.
By Wanita Wakus, PNG Post-Courier Online

A mother was at home and at the sound of the explosion of the volcano,
she prepared her four children with her small baby, put them on a canoe and
sent them out to the sea. She wanted them to be safe just in case the red hot
lava from the volcano flowed down and engulfed them. 

The four children and the small baby drifted out to sea as they saw the smoke
from the volcano spiralling high into the sky, not knowing that the eruption of the
volcano had also caused the tides to swell and the sea began to get rough. 
Trying to paddle and keep within the vicinity of the island, the wind and the
swelling waves swept their small canoe out  further away from the island. 

Fortunately, the wind had swept them towards the mainland and some villagers
on the mainland in Bogia who had also heard the huge eruption from the volcano
saw them. So they went out and rescued the young.
See our report on Monday, November 8th (bottom)
By Wanita Wakus, PNG Post-Courier Online

Local authorities are facing challenges with re-locating Manam volcanic victims, as they have
not faced an emergency operation of this type or magnitude.
The camp locations and their estimated number of people are: Mangem 785 people,
Asuramba 1340 people, Potsdam 800 people and Bogia transitional camp 600 people.
A two-phase response plan has been devised. 
Phase one involved the distribution of 400 water containers and 1000 tarpaulins to people
affected by the volcano. The lack of sanitation, particularly toilets, has caused residents to
use the bush land and the beach.
Immediate help is given by providing counselling services to distraught islanders as well as
mosquito nets, blankets and hand tools. 

There is an urgent need for increased water supply to the 5, 500 evacuated victims of the
Manam volcanic eruption residing in camps on the mainland.
The Red Cross has also recommended that tanks be placed at the camps to collect spring
and rainwater and that more jerry and water purification tablets be provided to ensure that
water is safe to drink.
On a visit to the camps, the Red Cross also observed that children needed protection
against malaria and that a lack of toilets was a health threat to the settlers.

Meanwhile, it has also been reported that the 4,500 people remaining on
Manam Island are facing food shortage as the volcano continues to blow its top
Summary from PNG Post-Courier Online




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