Starvation fears as hailstorm destroys gardens

National, Normal

The National – Friday, December 3, 2010

A VILLAGE in Western Highlands’ Mul-Baiyer district was destroyed by a hailstorm which struck on Tuesday afternoon.
According to Olda villagers, their food gardens were completely devastated by the hailstorm which hit at about 5pm and they were now faced with the possible threat of starving for a few months.
They said this was because the hailstorm had destroyed their food crops and were likely to rot, leaving them with no food for the next couple of months until they started replanting.
Wan Yee, David Noki, and Jack Yee told The National that at least 200 people were affected by the disaster.
Noki said it was a first for the area and people were distressed over the level of destruction the hailstorm had caused.
Farmers’ crops, grown to sell at the markets in Mt Hagen, Lae and Port Moresby, were destroyed resulting in the loss of thousands of kina.
Fish farming projects, coffee gardens and other farming activities being carried out in the area were also destroyed by the falling ice.
Small creeks in the area also burst their banks causing further destruction to properties and domestic animals.
By Wednesday afternoon, the ice which had fallen, had not yet melted and villagers were seen separating them from their gardens in their bid to save their crops.
They are now calling on the provincial disaster and emergency relief team to assess the damages and provide some form of assistance to the villagers.
They are also calling on local MP Sani Rambi and Governor Tom Olga to also look into the situation.
Other damages caused by heavy rains have also been reported in the province, as well as another hailstorm in the South Waghi area.