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PNG: Prime Minister promises disaster relief for Volcano evacuees

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By Jordan Fennell on Pacific Beat

Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister James Marape has visited those forced to evacuate after last week's volcanic eruptions, promising disaster relief in the form of financial assistance and will also send the country's defence force in to help.

Mr Marape visited the island of New Britain where Mount Ulawun erupted displacing over 12 thousand people.

He pledged that his government would give Mount Ulawun evacuees $5 million kina (AUD$2 million) to help provide water and shelter.

Dr Bill Hamblin, Papua New Guinea's Emergency Controller, said that it could be up to another week until residents are allowed to return home as the Volcano continues to spew ash.

"We put a no go zone around the volcano and told people not to go near it at least until next week because of the possibility of pyroclastic fires," he said.

Mr Hamblin also said that due to the increased wait time more supplies are needed for the evacuees but that they are housed in Port Moresby.

He said that Papua New Guinea does not have the airlift capacity to get the supplies to the island fast enough and has requested that PNG's Foreign affairs ministry seek assistance from Australia.

"We need to get containers full of tents, tarpaulins, and water purification equipment over there as fast as possible," he said.

Volcanologists will continue to monitor Mount Ulawun as it is still active and spewing ash although remains relatively quiet.

Principal Geodetic Surveyor at the Rabaul Volcanological Observatory has said that they know what to expect from Mount Ulawun as it erupts regularly.

"Mount Ulawun erupts every decade or so... this one hasn't erupted for sixteen years so it's just a normal ongoing situation," he said.

Australian Broadcasting Corporation: © ABC