Date:         Thu, 22 Sep 1994 23:17:54 MST
Reply-To: VOLCANO 
Sender: VOLCANO 
From: Graeme Wheller 
Subject:      Rabaul eruption update 7
To: Multiple recipients of list VOLCANO 
Status: OR

Australian television news last night (Thursday, September 22, UTC+10) and
newspapers this morning (Friday) report that the Rabaul eruptions have
"slowed down" over the last day or so. "The Mercury", om page 13, quotes a
statement from Robin Moaina, Secretary of the Mining and Petroleum
Department which runs the Rabaul Volcanological Observatory, as saying
"There is a fast movement of hot pumice running down the side of Vulcan and
flowing across the waters of the Simpson Harbour for up to 2 km". He is also
reported as saying that there was a thick raft of pumice floating across the
bay, appearing from a distance to be dry land. This last observation is also
apparent from the television footage.

"The Mercury" also says that the death toll remains at two, and that
"emergency services plan to take helicopters into the danger zone to rescue
elderly people still trapped in their homes near Tavurvur and Vulcan
volcanoes". It says emergency officials were wading through thick volcanic
ash in the town in search of food and water supplies left behind in the
abandoned shops. More than 30,000 people were said to be "housed in mission
centres, schools and plantation buildings and in urgent need of water and
food, with concern mounting about the potential for diseases such as typhoid
and dysentry".

The newspaper report also describes a plane-load of Australian relief
supplies despatched to Rabaul yesterday and mentions that the American
Embassy had offered to fly over a team of volcanologists with equipment to
help with the continual monitoring of eruptions. Japan and the United
Nations also were among major relief donors, as well as hundreds of donors
in PNG itself.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation television news last night showed
more scenes of vigorous ash plumes from Tavurvur and Vulcan and the local
scenery blanketed by brown mud and ash. The plumes were said to have reached
10 km high and unnamed geologists and climatologists were said to be playing
down the long-term global consequences of the eruption as it was nowhere
near as large as that of Pinutabo.

The TV news also said that the Rabaul Chamber of Commerce had estimated
damage at A$100 million. It also mentioned that All Nippon Airways and
Korean Airways had made alterations to their routes to and from Australia to
avoid the plume.

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