Over 500 Kadovar residents evacuated

591 locals residing on the erupted Kadovar Island in East Sepik Province were evacuated to Blup Blup Island in the north.

Today, East Sepik Governor Allan Bird told media that no casualties have been reported, but food and water on Blup Blup are diminishing because of the extra number of people.

While the focus today was to get food and water out to Blup Blup, Governor Bird said the most immediate plan is the get all Kadovar islanders to the mainland, to make relief assistance easier, and to plan a way forward to have them permanently resettled there.

The Governor acknowledged the quick thinking of Blup Blup and Kadovar Village councillors for organising their own evacuation exercise without external help, but the affected Kadovar villagers are far from safe, including their neighbours in the nearby Blup Blup and Biem islands.

Not only is food and water going to be a problem, but the ‘explosive’ nature of Kadovar stands to threaten nearby volcanic island Biem.

The provincial government is already contemplating a permanent resettlement for these Schouten Islands communities.

For now, Blup Blup is catering for at least 1,500 people; water is fast running out. Immediate assistance to bring food and water rations was underway way today.

Governor Bird said key agencies, including the provincial government, have assumed the worst case scenario now.

The Governor said the long-term plan is to move Schouten Islanders to the mainland.

Director of the National Disaster Centre, Martin Mose, said his team will be deployed to Wewak at the earliest tomorrow to set up an Emergency Operation Centre to assist and strengthen the emergency response capacity of the province.

Communication also remains an obstacle, but a team consisting the military, police and medics were sent out to the incident site over the weekend; a report of the situation is yet to be given.

(East Sepik Governor Allan Bird, second right, during today’s media conference) 

Salome Vincent