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World Vision Readies Aid For Volcano Victims

World Vision Readies Aid For Volcano Victims

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World Vision is readying to mount a relief operation to assist thousands impacted by a series of eruptions on the volcanic island of Manam, off the coast of Papua New Guinea.

The eruptions have forced villagers to flee molten lava flows and have blanketed homes, crops and water supplies with volcanic ash. Boats are being rushed to the island to facilitate evacuations to the town of Bogia on the mainland.

World Vision program officer Bernadette Haro, speaking from Port Moresby today, said the relief effort would likely include the delivery of tanked water and foods such as rice, flour, taro and banana to evacuees, and any who remained on the island.

Ms Haro said the agency would also seek to supply medicines to counter an outbreak of water-borne disease, eye and ear infections. A second stage of the relief effort may include the provision of seeds to rehabilitate agriculture, though it was uncertain when evacuees would be able to return to Manam and an attempted re-settlement in Bogia could cause problems with traditional landowners.

World Vision is currently awaiting a preliminary report from its relief manager Harry Gubala to refine its response. Mr Gubala was dispatched to the disaster zone yesterday accompanied by a Government delegation.

Ms Haro said the Government hoped to continue the evacuation of an initial 2,900 people from Manam to Bogia today but the success of the operation would depend on good weather and the acquisition of sufficient number of boats and fuel to facilitate the operation. She said it was possible the whole population of 9,500 would need to be evacuated to Bogia, where they would be received by a government run care centre.

She said so far she had heard of no reports of fatalities and commended World Vision trained disaster management committees, who successfully evacuated villagers from the hardest hit areas.

"Otherwise there would certainly have been more casualties," she said.

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