|Smoke emanates from Manam Island volcano on Dec 30, 2010.-Picture courtesy of SIR PETER BARTER|
At Dugalava, a spokesman for the people told the provincial disaster office and Sir Peter Barter that more than 1, 000 people needed to be evacuated and similar stories emerged from other villages right around the Island.
Sir Peter released funds to purchase petrol and diesel and the provincial disaster office drove the fuel to Bogia overnight so that evacuations could take place at day break if necessary.
Both the Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare and acting Prime Minister Sam Abal were advised and contact was made with the director of the PNG National Disaster service, Martin Mose, who has since despatched the operations manager to coordinate activities in Madang.
Due to heavy rain, Sir Peter delayed departure from Madang, but flew to Bogia to pick up the Rabaul Observatory officer Herman Tibong together with a representative of the provincial disaster and Bogia administration and flew to Manam for an aerial inspection.
Whilst there was evidence of lava flow in two valleys, most of the villages were intact and the eruption had subsided.
The Rabaul Observatory increased the level to “3” which basically warns people not to climb to higher gardens or walk into or across the valleys in fear of lava flow.
The team accompanying Sir Peter advised the people that there appeared no immediate danger providing precautions were followed and the people were assured that the situation would continue to be closely monitored.
|Villagers surround Sir Peter's helicopter on Manam Island|
Following the visit to Manam, returning the officials to Bogia, Sir Peter made quick stops at Asuramba, Malala, Mangem to assure the people there was no immediate danger but the National Disaster Office along with Rabaul Observatory would consider further actions if and where necessary.
Sir Peter has recommended that Radio Madang be put back on air immediately so people on Manam could be kept advised.
Clearly they were frightened, many demanding to be relocated to the mainland.
Sir Peter said that unless some arrangements were made for shelter and food evacuating people could result in serious problems, especially given the fact it was a holiday weekend and it would be difficult to get services delivered.
The Manus Border barge was placed on alert in the event it was necessary to evacuate Manam.