Date:         Tue, 20 Sep 1994 21:35:17 +1000
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From: Dr Kevin Vang 
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          Multiple recips of list SEISM-L ,
          Multiple recipients of list VOLCANO 
To: Multiple recipients of list QUAKE-L 
Status: OR

Vulcan and Tervurvur continue to belch ash, smoke and pumice in huge
quanities as Rabaul slowly sinks beneath the ash.  An official AIDAB
mission reports a consistent layer of 3/4 metre of ash throughout the
immediate city area with other parts now approaching 1.5-2 metres.  Many
of the houses and the downtown buildings have collapsed under the weight
of the soggy ash.

Although still unofficial, Matupit Island has disappeared taking with it
many hundreds of dwellings.  When Matupit first arose from the sea in the
late 1970s (I think), it set the stage for one of the most fascinating
land rights and property law cases that the South Pacific has ever seen.
The traditional landowners won their case against the PNG government who
tried to exersise emminant domain.  Several hundred houses were built
there, but if the reports are true--its all gone now (at least until it
comes back again).  Matupit was actually a Peninsula during most of the
1980s until a few days ago, attached to the land area near where the airport

Several dramatic sea rescues were attempted in the outlyng areas west and
south of Rabaul.  Ships plucked between 5,000-10,000 additional residents
of the western coastal hill tracks.  The weakly prevailing SW-WSW winds
have carried much of the ash over this area, and the villagers were
stranded and in bad shape, as heavy rains were creating havoc.  Most of
these refugees were taken to Kokopo some 30km SW of Rabaul.  This brings
the total number of refugees between 40,000-50,000 (AIDAB)

The rains are really beginning to have a devastating effect with reports
of mudflows and floods throughout the area.  The winds have generally
been light-variable with a slight SW-WSW tend.  This has resulted in much
of the ash being dumped within 10-20km of the eruption zone.  The rain
has helped localise the ash as well. Light-Moderate falls have occurred
over much of East New Britain Province, New Ireland, West New Britain and
very isolated reports of very light falls between Lae and Milne Bay with
Popondetta, Morobe and Alatau with unofficial reports.

A huge relief effort is getting underway.  AIDAB (Australia Government
Aid) made their first inspection today and reported a very severe refugee
situation requiring immediate food, water and shelter aid.  AIDAB will be
flying its first relief plane tommorrow.  It will land at the Tokua
airstrip and have lots of food and makeshift shelters.

The economic effects of PNG losing one of its biggest cities, and centre
of the Bismarck Archipelago will be hard felt.  This combined with the
continuing Bougainville situation, the recent explosions at the Porgera Mine,
the goverments endless cashflow problems, and the recent new government
on the heels of a no-confidence motion, makes for a very problematic
situation indeed.  I think a big bail out is going to be necessary, and a
major rethink (externally and internally) about the future is in order.

Kevin Vang