Volcano: Papua New Guinea evacuates thousands

CANBERRA (AUSTRALIA): Authorities in Papua New Guinea are evacuating thousands of people at risk of a volcanic eruption in the South Pacific Island nation’s north, the government said on Monday.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said he had directed all relevant state resources be made available to support the evacuation of people at risk due to volcanic eruptions on Kadovar Island in the East Sepik region.

He also warned northern coastal communities to be alert for possible tsunamis resulting from volcanic activity.

“Volcanoes are very unpredictable. We are hearing various reports that activity has been building up and we need to take all precautions to keep our people safe,” O’Neill said in a statement.

“We will not take risks with human lives. Let’s get people out of harm’s way now and constantly monitor the activity of the volcano,” he added.

Flights in the area had been cancelled and shipping had been warned to stay away it was responding to the volcanic activity, he said.

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Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported 3,000 people were being evacuated from Biem Island, 12 kilometers (7 miles) west of Kadovar, where plumes of ash forced 700 people to evacuate in the past week.

Papua New Guinea sits on the “Pacific Ring of Fire” and has frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.