Date:         Wed, 21 Sep 1994 22:37:28 MST
Reply-To: VOLCANO 
Sender: VOLCANO 
From: Graeme Wheller 
Subject:      Rabaul eruption update 6
To: Multiple recipients of list VOLCANO 
Status: OR

Australian television reports last night (Wednesday, UTC+10) and this
morning's (Thursday) newspaper and radio reports show the eruption is
continuing, though possibly subsiding, and that Rabaul town is severely
damaged, perhaps terminally. The Australian man trapped in his house has
been rescued alive. The death toll still stands at two but the reports
indicate that many people are thought to be missing.

Aerial video shown on the Channel 9 and Australian Broadcasting Corporation
television networks last night showed thick black ash columns continuing to
billow vigorously from Vulcan and Tavurvur. Much of Rabaul harbour appears
covered by floating pumice and possibly partly filled in by volcanic
material. The sky over the area is black and ash has been reported falling
650 km away on the PNG mainland. The surrounding countryside is covered by
brown ash and mud. Roofs of buildings have collapsed and fronds of palm
trees point downwards under the weight of ash.

News of the eruption has now left the front pages of newspapers. The report
in "The Australian" (page 3) this morning highlights relief flights by the
Royal Australian Air Force and the rescue of the trapped Australian. It says
that more than 52,000 people have been evacuated to primitive shelters in
towns around the Gazelle Peninsula where they are battling heavy rain and
strong winds. It also reports unnamed officials from the National Disaster
and Emergency Services in PNG as being hopeful that the worst was over.

"The Mercury" put the story on page 7 and quotes the rescued Australian as
saying "Rabaul is destroyed, it's gone, it's finished. It just doesn't exist
anymore". The report says that "he struggled knee-deep in ash through the
village, leaving just as his house finally succumbed to the weight of
volcanic waste".

If anyone is interested in pictures of the eruption I managed to capture
(with permission) three images from the television video shown on the "A
Current Affair" programme on the Channel 9 network Tuesday night. They are
available by anonymous FTP from the University of Tasmania computer in the directory /departments/geology/rabaul.

Graeme Wheller
Consultant Geologist
Volcanex International Pty Ltd
Phone/Fax: domestic (002) 298057 international +61 02 298057