Monday, March 14, 2011

Waves hit Wewak



THREE waves swept through the township of Wewak and its coastal villages last Friday night, destroying thousands of kina worth of properties, The National reports.

Fortunately, no casualties were reported.

Wewak residents living near along the coast were evacuated to Wewak Hill and Kreer Heights following the warning from the National Disaster and Emergency office that a possible tsunami would hit between 9pm on Friday and 2am on Saturday morning.

The tsunami alert was issued around the Pacific when a giant earthquake measuring 8.9 on the Richter Scale hit Honsu in Japan last Friday.

Back in Wewak, the only road to Second Royal Pacific Island Regiment base at Moem, which runs along the coastline, was battered and filled with debris and sand making it impassable for most vehicles.

A section of the road from Pukpuk Bridge to Petrus Point which was partly washed away by the recent king tide in December 2008 was made worse by last Friday’s waves.

All vehicles from Moem village and the army barracks are now using an access road which runs through swamp land on the eastern coastline to Sawarin village near Brandi Secondary School.

Wewak rural LLG president Francis Hevu toured all coastal villages on Saturday morning and sympathised with his people.

He said like the Moem Barracks road, the road to Cape Wom Memorial Park on the western end of Wewak was mostly washed away and he feared that these national government institutions would have no more roads linking to Wewak town.

These roads were built on swamp land between mangroves and sea but with last Friday’s waves, the sea had extended its shoreline onto the roads.

This means that if a tsunami or king tide were to strike, all roads would be completely destroyed.

Local villagers and settlements in town as well as shops and offices located less than 200m away from the shoreline were flooded.

A number of bush material houses on the beaches were brought down with canoes and dinghies either broken or washed inland.

A hamlet at Moem village had all its water wells covered by debris and salt water and locals said their main need now was for clean water to drink and cook with.

Hevu said he would seek assistance from the provincial disaster office today.

Meanwhile, there were unconfirmed reports of damages caused by the earthquake to the Murik Lakes area, the islands and other coastal villagers outside Wewak.

Wewak General Hospital, which is surrounded by sea on both sides, was also reportedly affected, however, the hospital’s CEO or provincial disaster office could not be reached for comments yesterday.

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