MAF issues warning to locals

Missionary Aviation Fellowship has issued warning to locals in the earthquake affected areas to remain on higher ground.

Quake dams formed by landslides and debris at the head of the Tagali River in the Tari district has posed another major hazard; the continuous aftershocks could cause flooding.

Sally Lloyd, who has lived among the local Bosavi people, has been assisting the Western Provincial Government, MAF and other stakeholders to coordinate and disseminate information about the people and the landscape so that those delivering aid know exactly where to go.

She said locals are terrified, especially over rumours that Mt Bosavi in Southern Highlands Province could erupt.

This rumour has been dismissed, and locals are being told not to leave their homes.

“We will go out there and firstly, just try and make sure they’re okay,” stated Lloyd, who grew up as a missionary kid in the area.

“They are all terrified and they’re asking for us to come – people that they know and who speak the language – to settle them down.”

MAF have warned of quake dams and floods. In a report issued on Wednesday, MAF provided satellite images of the before and after effects of the earthquake in the Komo area, SHP, where the Tagali River starts.

Lloyd also said work is underway to set up a communication hub in Mogulu for coordination and information passing.

There are just under 8 thousand people in the Bosavi and Mogulu area on the border of Western Province and Southern Highlands.

She said some have been trying to flee their home, but have been told to remain on higher ground.

MAF reported that the earthquake and aftershocks have caused fallen rock and dirt to create dams, blocking up rivers, particularly the Tagari and the Heggio.

The biggest danger is downstream where the water has stopped flowing.

MAF reported that the dam could break at any time, sending a powerful flood down the valley and killing anyone in its path.

MAF says it continues to collect and pass on information to government authorities regarding air strips, road closures, polluted water supplies, food shortages and damages to clinics, schools and other important buildings.

“MAF and the Papua New Guinea Defence Force have the coordinates and they will be starting relief flights into the area,” said Lloyd.

She further revealed that some relief have already been provided, thanks to MAF and local businesses in Mt Hagen.

(Long-time volunteer Sally Lloyd)

Salome Vincent