The National, Wednesday 29th May 2013
By PETER ESOP WARI
LOCAL people are still waiting for relief assistance five weeks after Lake Ivae at Surinki in the Laiagam-Porgera district of Enga burst its banks and water covered land, food gardens and livestock after a landslide blocked an outlet to the lake.
Last week, the water level rose to 100m and reached another 50m this week, completely covering the Surinki-Tuksanda-Porgera access road near the lake.
A Surinki man, Leo Saul, said the local villagers were starving and needed urgent relief supplies as most of their food gardens were destroyed or had been submerged in water.
“People who depend on food gardens near the lake are starving and are depending on their relatives and the provincial disaster team needs to step in and help,” he said.
Laiagam-Porgera district administrator George Poio said he had sent a report to the provincial disaster office which was aware of the situation after a visit by officers to the disaster area.
“This is a big issue and we are waiting for responses from the national disaster officer in Port Moresby, the lake is continuing to rise and would soon reach the national highway which is few kilometres away from the lake,” he said.
Poio said this would affect the Porgera gold mine’s operation as the national highway was estimated to be as high as the current surface of the lake which was continuing to rise.
He said people from the area had been warned not to go near the blockage as it could spill over and also affect communities living downstream.
Poio estimated that five bridges and numerous properties downstream were likely to be washed away if government authorities did not move quickly to clear the blockage.
He added that the landslide had forced back six rivers.
Attempts by The National to contact the national and provincial disaster centres for response on the situation were unsuccessful yesterday.