Manam Island misery
By TOBY WALKER
MONTHS after a volca- nic eruption on Manam Island sent thousands of Papua New Guineans fleeing from their homes, the Federal Government has pledged $300,000 in financial aid. And it's needed now more than ever. Another eruption, the most violent yet, rocked the tiny island on Janu- ary 28. Shooting volcanic ash 70,000 feet into the stratosphere and heard over 200km away, it was the largest recorded eruption on the planet in the past 12 months. According to John Seach, the Clarence Valley volcano hunter who left Manam Island shortly after the first eruptions, 2000 dis- placed islanders had re- turned to their homes to gather food from their gardens, when the vol- cano blew again. He said several homes were burned to the ground and others collapsed under the weight of of ash and cinders sent flying from the explosion. Mr Seach believed one person to be miss- ing, presumed dead, and at least 13 others injured. Despite the desperate situation facing Manam Islanders, Mr Seach said they would be glad to know Australia had not forgotten them, particu- larly in the wake of the Government's $1 billion pledge to assist coun- tries ravaged by the Boxing Day tsunami. The money will be channelled through World Vision and CARE Australia to provide safe drinking water, toilets and generally improve the conditions of main- land camps housing the islanders.