Typhoon Usman and nightmarish Christmas holiday times in Bicol

Flooding of ricefields and villager homes beside the causeway between Vinzons and Labo in Camarines Norte, Bicol region, during Typhoon Usman on 29 December 2018. Video: Café Pacific

By David Robie

It was nerve wracking, and at times really scary. The wind howled and bowled over grown trees, the rain fell in a continuous deluge, and electricity was cut for the best part of three days.

Vinzons, a small town of about 44,000 people in a remote corner of mountainous Bicol in the Philippines, was “marooned”.

The ricefields to the north and west and south of the town were flooded, the Labo River had broken its banks and the Pacific Ocean was encroaching to the east.

Once was a rice field … a flooded area beside the Labo causeway, swollen by the Labo River and looking like the open sea. Image: David Robie/PMC

Our Christmas present – Typhoon Usman – had turned us into a virtual island.

Typhoon Usman … daily media reports of death and destruction, but Vinzons was largely cut off for communications.

People turned up my wife’s sister’s home with horror stories. Flooded in the middle of the night. Awakened by floodwaters lapping at their bedside. Waist deep in water.


And the fears of electrocution were very real.

Rumours were rife of deaths in the Vinzons district.

The 360 km road from Manila to Vinzons through the rugged Bicol mountains. Map: Google

Communications blackout
But it was hard to get accurate and verified information with a communications blackout. Internet was down. No television and cellphone reception difficult.

Our planned trip to the impressive Mayon volcano, 206 km southwards past Naga was cancelled. We would never have made it.

Flooding at the bridge to Magcawayan school … after the waters had dropped. Video: Café Pacific

What was really happening? I called in at the local community radio station, Radyo Katabang 107.7FM, tucked away in a rooftop shack.

However, it was Christmas time and although the radio was on an emergency generator, the skeleton staff were relying on networked programming from Manila, 360 km away on the Pan-Philippine Highway – itself blocked by massive road slips.

Technician Michael Sarical holds the fort at community Radio Katabang. Image: David Robie/PMC

I drove around with my wife’s lawyer nephew in a “Judiciary”-plated four-wheel-drive vehicle to get a sense of the devastation in the district.

A small military detachment – a truck and soldiers – arrived to guard the emergency rice supplies and other foodstuffs as they were being dispensed by volunteers at the Vinzons Town Hall.

Soldiers awaiting orders at the Vinzons Town Hall. Image: David Robie/PMC

By December 30, the typhoon – now downgraded to a “tropical depression” (still very depressing, actually) – had eased and children were out in droves playing in the flooded streets in spite of the risks.

“Fun” on the flooded Vinzons streets. Video: Café Pacific

Plugged into news
And we were now plugged into the newscasts again. It wasn’t quite as bad as we had thought – only one death in Vinzons (out of a total of 122 across Bicol, the island of Samar and the Central Visayas).

Volunteers at the Vinzons Town Hall prepare relief food packs for evacuees. Image: David Robie/PMC

At least 57 of the dead were from Camarines Sur province, mostly from a landslide in the town of Sagnay, reports the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

At least 18 of the dead were from Albay, 15 from Camarines Norte (our province), eight from Sorsogon and seven from Masbate.

Of the 23 missing people – presumed dead, 20 were from Camarines Sur, and three from Tiwi, Albay.

Bicol relief officials also said nearly 31,000 people had sought shelter in six evacuation centres.

One Municipal Social Welfare Development (MSWD) official I spoke to in Vinzons, Irine Cribe del Rio, said a total of 641 families (2185 people), had been sheltered during the storm, mostly at Vinzons Elementary School.

Clean-up time in a Vinzons market shop. Image: David Robie/PMC

Crops devastated
Although they went back to their homes – if still standing – their freshly planted rice fields and livelihoods were devastated.

An average of 20 typhoons and storms lash the Philippines each year, killing hundreds of people and leaving millions in near-perpetual poverty, reports The Guardian.

The most powerful was Super Typhoon Haiyan which left more than 7360 people dead or missing across the central Philippines in 2013.

Yet, remarkably, in spite of the hardships the community is full of smiles and laughter.

David Robie and his wife, Del, were on holiday in the Vinzons town of Bicol when the typhoon struck. They assist a local school through a support project.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Palu quake and tsunami sweeps away key Indonesian human rights activism

Palu mayor Rusdy Mastura (seen on the billboard), apologised in 2012 for the mass killings of Communists in Indonesia, becoming the first and only Indonesian official to do so. This paved the way for family and victims of the massacre to receive aid. Image: Ulet Ifansasti

ANALYSIS: By Dr Vannessa Hearman

When the earthquake and tsunami hit the city of Palu, Central Sulawesi, last weekend, they not only brought wreckage and death. The twin disasters also swept away efforts by activists and the municipal administration to support the survivors of Indonesia’s violent anti-communist purges in 1965-1966.

In the rest of the country, such survivors are still very marginalised.

In Palu, a city of some 350,000 inhabitants and the capital of Central Sulawesi province, activists had convinced local government leaders to work with them in helping these survivors.

READ MORE: One week on, Palu quake survivors begin to worry about the future

Palu is the only place in Indonesia where a government leader has made an official apology to the victims of the anti-communist violence in the area. Some nine days after the devastating natural disaster, the fate of some of those activists is still unknown.

Indonesian people lived under Suharto’s New Order authoritarian regime between 1968 and 1998, when the president was forced to resign. From 1965-66, the army, under Suharto, spearheaded anti-communist operations that killed half a million people and led to the detention of hundreds of thousands.


The army blamed Indonesia’s Communist Party (PKI) for the murder of seven army officers on the night of 30 September and in the early hours of 1 October, 1965, by a group calling itself the Thirtieth September Movement. The 53rd anniversary of these events coincided with the terrible disaster in Central Sulawesi.

The Palu earthquake and tsunami aftermath … fate of many 1965-1966 “purge” human rights activists unknown. Image: Tempo – Search for quake, tsunami victims to stop on Thursday as death toll tops 1760

In 2012, the Palu mayor, Rusdy Mastura, apologised to the victims of the anti-communist violence. He pledged to provide assistance to them and their families in the interests of “equality, openness and humanitarian considerations”.

In his speech, Mastura recalled how, as a boy scout in 1965, he had been tasked with guarding leftist detainees.

Victims of abuses
Mastura was speaking at an event organised by local human rights group, SKP-HAM (Solidaritas Korban Pelanggaran Hak Asasi Manusia, Solidarity with Victims of Human Rights Abuses).

SKP-HAM was founded in 2004. Its best-known leader is the dynamic secretary, Nurlaela Lamasitudju, the daughter of local Islamic cleric, Abdul Karim Lamasitudju.

SKP-HAM is part of the national Coalition for Truth and Justice (Koalisi Pengungkapan Kebenaran dan Keadilan, KKPK).

In 2012, the KKPK held several public events and community “hearings”, dubbed the “Year of Truth Telling”, to pressure the administration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to rehabilitate the victims of the violence.

In April 2012, Yudhoyono was reported as having expressed his intention to apologise to victims of human rights abuses committed during the Suharto New Order regime.

Yudhoyono’s promised apology never materialised. However, the “Year of Truth Telling” events yielded some important gains in Palu.

Following his apology, the SKP-HAM lobbied Mastura to deliver on his promises by providing healthcare and scholarships. A mayoral regulation and a Regional Action Plan for Human Rights (Rencana Hak Asasi Manusia, Ranham) were promulgated to enable this.

Autonomy laws
These local government instruments have been made possible through Indonesia’s regional autonomy laws.

The mayoral regulation also established a committee to oversee human rights protection and restoration of victims’ rights. On May 20, 2013, Palu was declared a “Human Rights Aware City”.

Each year, the city holds a series of human rights-related events.

In May 2015, the Palu City Regional Planning Body oversaw the process of checking and verifying the identity of victims and their needs, using the information compiled by human rights groups as a base.

A trailblazing city
SKP-HAM had collected 1200 testimonies about the 1965-66 violence from victims in the area. From these testimonies, it had created and uploaded to YouTube short films of survivors’ testimonies.

It had also published a book about the 1965-66 events in Sulawesi, in collaboration with Indonesian author, Putu Oka Sukanta. Mastura wrote the book’s preface.

The group supported weaving cooperatives involving women survivors and ran a café and meeting space, Kedai Fabula, at its office in Palu. In partnership with religious groups and the municipal administration, members of the group organised social activities to involve abuse survivors in the life of the city.

The activities of SKP-HAM Palu is a reminder of what has been lost. It was a trailblazing city whose achievement in human rights advancement provided a model for the rest of the country.

The people of Palu, with a great deal of assistance, will rebuild, but we still wait for more news from the city.

SKP-HAM leader, Lamasitudju, survived the earthquake and tsunami. With a sprained ankle and having lost several family members in the disaster, she is volunteering to collect and provide information regarding the situation in Palu.

Indonesia needs groups like SKP-HAM that campaign for inclusiveness and equal rights to survive into the future.

Dr Vannessa Hearman is a lecturer in Indonesian studies at Charles Darwin University in the Northern Territory. She is a member of the Asian Studies Association of Australia Council. Charles Darwin University provides funding as a member of The Conversation AU. Asia Pacific Report republishes this article under a Creative Commons licence.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Palu disaster: Why Indonesia’s tsunamis are so deadly

ANALYSIS: By Dr Anja Scheffers

The magnitude 7.5 earthquake, and subsequent tsunami, that struck Indonesia days ago has resulted in at least 1,200 deaths.

Authorities are still gauging the extent of the damage, but it is clear the earthquake and tsunami had a devastating effect on the Sulawesi region, particularly the city of Palu.

It’s not the first time earthquakes have caused mass destruction and death in Indonesia. The tsunamis that follow are particularly damaging. But why?

READ MORE: Would a better tsunami warning system have saved lives in Sulawesi?

A combination of plate tectonic in the region, the shape of the coastline, vulnerable communities and a less-than-robust early warning system all combine to make Indonesian tsunamis especially dangerous.

Poorly understood
Indonesia covers many complex tectonic environments. Many details of these are still poorly understood, which hampers our ability to predict earthquake and tsunami risks.


The biggest earthquakes on Earth are “subduction zone” earthquakes, which occur where two tectonic plates meet.

In December 2004 and March 2005, there were a pair of subduction zone earthquakes along the Sunda Trench offshore of the west coast of Sumatra. In particular, the magnitude-9.1 quake in December 2004 generated a devastating tsunami that killed almost a quarter of a million people in countries and islands surrounding the Indian Ocean.

But only looking out for these kinds of earthquakes can blind us to other dangers. Eastern Indonesia has many small microplates, which are jostled around by the motion of the large Australia, Sunda, Pacific and Philippine Sea plates.

The September quake was caused by what’s called a “strike-slip” fault in the interior of one of these small plates. It is rare – although not unknown – for these kinds of quakes to create tsunamis.

The fault systems are rather large, and through erosion processes have created broad river valleys and estuaries. The valley of the Palu river, and its estuary in which the regional capital Palu is located, have been formed by this complex fault system.

Studies of prehistoric earthquakes along this fault system suggests this fault produces magnitude 7-8 earthquakes roughly every 700 years.

Sea floor shapes wave
Another important factor for tsunamis is the depth and shape of the sea floor. This determines the speed of the initial waves. Strong subduction zone earthquakes on the ocean floor can cause the entire ocean water column to lift, then plunge back down.

As the water has momentum, it may fall below sea level and create strong oscillations.

The bulge of water moving outward from the centre of a earthquake maybe of limited height (rarely much more than a metre), but the mass of water is extremely large (depending on the surface area moved by the earthquake).

Tsunami waves can travel very fast, reaching the speed of a jet. In water 2km deep they can travel at 700k/hour, and over very deep ocean can hit 1000km per hour.

When the wave approaches the shallower coast, its speed decreases and the height increases. A tsunami may be 1m high in the open ocean, but rise to 5-10m at the coast. If the approach to the shoreline is steep, this effect is exaggerated and can create waves tens of metres high.

Despite the fact that the waves slow down near the coast, their immense starting speeds mean flat areas can be inundated for kilometres inland.

The ocean floor topography affects the speed of tsunami waves, meaning they move faster over deep areas and slow down over submarine banks. Very steep land, above or below water, can even bend and reflect waves.

More intense, deadly
The coastlines of the Indonesian archipelago are accentuated, in particular in the eastern part and especially at Sulawesi. Palu has a narrow, deep and long bay: perfectly designed to make tsunamis more intense, and more deadly.

This complex configuration also makes it very difficult to model potential tsunamis, so it’s hard to issue timely and accurate warnings to people who may be affected.

The safest and simplest advice for people in coastal areas that have been affected by an earthquake is to get to higher ground immediately, and stay there for a couple of hours. In reality, this is a rather complex problem.

Hawaii and Japan have sophisticated and efficient early warning systems. Replicating these in Indonesia is challenging, given the lack of communications infrastructure and the wide variety of languages spoken throughout the vast island archipelago.

After the 2004 Indian Ocean disaster, international efforts were made to improve tsunami warning networks in the region. Today, Indonesia’s tsunami warning system operates a network of 134 tidal gauge stations, 22 buoys connected to seafloor sensors to transmit advance warnings, land-based seismographs, sirens in about 55 locations, and a system to disseminate warnings by text message.

However, financing and supporting the early warning system in the long term is a considerable problem. The buoys alone cost around US$250,000 each to install and US$50,000 annually for maintenance.

The three major Indonesian agencies for responsible for earthquake and tsunami disaster mitigation have suffered from budget cuts and internal struggles to define roles and responsibilities.

Models insufficient
Lastly, the Palu tsunami event has highlighted that our current tsunami models are insufficient. They do not properly consider multiple earthquake events, or the underwater landslides potentially caused by such quakes.

No early warning system can prevent strong earthquakes. Tsunamis, and the resulting infrastructure damage and fatalities, will most certainly occur in the future. But with a well-developed and reliable early warning system, and better communication and public awareness, we can minimise the tragic consequences.

With earthquakes that occur very close to the beach – often the case in Indonesia – even an ideal system could not disseminate the necessary information quickly enough. Indonesia’s geography and vulnerable coastal settlements makes tsunamis more dangerous, so we need more and concerted efforts to create earthquake and tsunami resilient communities.

This article is republished from The Conversation through a Creative Commons licence.

Dr Anja Scheffers is a professor at Southern Cross University, Lismore, New South Wales.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Chaos in Palu after quake and tsunami as survivors deal with hunger, thirst

By Ruslan Sangadji and Andi Hajramurni in Palu, Indonesia

In the wake of mass destruction caused by Indonesia’s 7.4-magnitude earthquake and the subsequent tsunami, survivors in Palu and Donggala in Central Sulawesi have been scrambling to salvage food supplies and other items, as aid from the central government began to trickle into the region.

Yesterday, many survivors blocked trucks carrying aid to plunder the contents as many have gone hungry and thirsty for days.

A video circulating on Twitter, said to have been taken in Donggala regency, also shows people intercepting a relief aid truck.

VIEW MORE: Drone video footage shows scale of Palu tsunami devastation

The Jakarta Post’s correspondent saw people waiting for fuel at a Pertamina gas station asking the entourage of journalists and officials from Jakarta for drinking water.

Local news report on the chaos in Palu.

“Drinking water, drinking water, please,” some survivors said to passing motorists.


“I ran into a mother and her child at the airport who asked me to share some of my water with her child,” correspondent Andi Hajramurni said.

“Just a little, enough for my child,” Hajramurni quoted the mother as saying to her.

Upset over aid
A pregnant woman was also found exhausted outside the airport. She said she was upset to see aid being unloaded from the planes but none reaching the survivors waiting to leave the city at the airport.

Thousands crowded Mutiara Sis Al Jufri airport to leave the devastated city while staving off hunger and thirst under the scorching heat.

The survivors have been waiting for a chance to flee the city since Saturday, camping outside on mats or cardboard. They were hoping to catch a plane to Makassar to later go to their respective hometowns.

“What is important is to get out of Palu. We have agreed to meet Papa in Makassar and then go to Jakarta,” Paramita said. The 29-year-old, who sustained an injury to her leg from falling concrete debris, is taking her two sisters with her.

Desperate and impatient, the survivors were occupying part of the runway.

An airport official, Syaeful, said that on Sunday night, about 5000 people had waited for a plane at the airport. “The number keeps increasing,” he said.

Earthquake survivors in Palu, Central Sulawesi, crowd Mutiara Sis Al Jufri Airport in Palu in a desperate attempt to leave the devastated area on Monday. Image: Andi Hajramurni/Jakarta Post

Some businesses, such as at Masomba traditional market, have opened for businesses and some survivors have bought food supplies.

“I bought some fish,” the Post’s correspondent Ruslan Sangadji, who is also a survivor of the quake, said.

Food, clean water scarce
However, food and clean water are scarce and many are desperate.

In Buluri subdistrict, Ulujadi district in the western part of Palu, survivors blocked roads to intercept trucks carrying food supplies. Police officers in the area are reported to be unable to hold off the crowd.

Similarly, residents in Tawaeli district in central Palu have taken to a nearby port to intercept government aid arriving on ships. The police were also reported to be unable to ward off the desperate crowd.

A handful of residents even looted nearby convenience stores for any life-sustaining item they could find, since aid from the government had not yet arrived.

Many also attempted to siphon fuel from gas stations around the city over the weekend as none of the city’s gas stations were in operation following the earthquake and tsunami that hit the city on Friday.

Jokowi’s message
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo on Sunday asked quake survivors to be patient as they wait for aid to be distributed upon arriving in Palu, the capital of Central Sulawesi.

Jokowi said it would take one week to prepare the airport so airplanes carrying the supplies could land safely.

“I’m aware there are a lot of issues that need to be resolved as soon as possible, and I hope the people will remain patient in this situation,” he told the reporters.

Yesterday, Jokowi said he would send “as much food as possible” immediately.

Several people also reportedly robbed ATMs and jewelry shops. Twitter user @MpuAnon posted a video showing gold shops that looked like they had been looted.

“Gold shops. Post-looting,” the Twitter user said in the caption.

The police are reported to have ordered a shoot on sight policy against such robbers.

Guards on gas stations
In an attempt to maintain and restore order in the region, the National Police and the National Military have employed personnel to guard several gas stations and convenience stores across Palu, according to the police’s head of communication Brig. Gen. Dedi Prasetyo.

Previously, Home Minister Tjahjo Kumolo advised against looting – not even in the wake of a natural disaster – as the act is considered criminal.

“There’s no justification whatsoever for looting. Everyone’s equally affected by the disaster; their shops destroyed, shopping malls devastated,” Tjahjo said during a televised interview, as quoted by kompas.com.

Prior to Sunday’s statement, news spread on social media that the government had approved of the looting at convenience stores and that the expenses would be covered by the state.

However, Tjahjo denied it, saying that what the government had approved was the transfer of aid funds to the Central Sulawesi administration, to be used for food supplies for survivors.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Typhoon Mangkhut devastates north of Philippines with at least 25 dead

Typhoon Mangkhut as seen from the foyer of the of the Mira de Polaris hotel about 15 km from the heart of San Nicolas. Video: Jeremaiah M. Opiniano/Cafe Pacific

By Jeremaiah M. Opiniano in San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte

Howling winds and heavy volumes of rainfall brought more than a third of the Philippines and its 103 million citizens to a standstill at the weekend with at least 25 people dead.

The width of this typhoon dubbed Mangkhut (local name: Ompong) —900 km in radius— hit communities far and near the eye of the storm, which passed by this province nearly noon yesterday.

Paved streets, mountain systems and agricultural plains here in this municipality are largely unsafe to walk due to the gusty winds and heavy rainfall.

READ MORE: Philippines death toll rises as Typhoon Mangkhut barrels towards China

San Nicolas is a microcosm of what hit the Philippines’ largest island of Luzon.


Mangkhut is perceived to be stronger than 2016’s third strongest typhoon worldwide: Haima (local name: Lawin). Lawin was tagged a “super typhoon” given recorded sustained winds of 225 kph (10-minute standard) and wind gusts of 315 kmh.

Ompong reached its highest sustained winds of 205 kph (just under the 220 kph minimum sustained winds to be tagged technically as a super typhoon), say Filipino meteorologists.

But Mangkut’s width was larger than Haima’s 800 km.

The relatively peaceful eye of Typhoon Mangkhut as experienced at some 15 km from the municipality of San Nicolas in Ilocos Norte province. The photo was taken from Mira de Polaris hotel in San Nicolas. Image: Jeremaiah Opiniano/PMC

Heavily-hit provinces
Heavily-hit provinces were in Luzon’s northern and north-western parts like the province of Cagayan (where its municipality of Baggao was where Mangkhut first made landfall at dawn yesterday).

Then Mangkhut passed by Ilocos Norte, driving a swathe of rain and gusty winds from 10 am to 12 noon.

About 11:45 am, the eye of the storm —the calm portion of the typhoon with no rain and wind for some 15 to 30 minutes — can be seen in neighbouring Batac City, 15 km from San Nicolas.

Nearby provinces Ilocos Sur, La Union, Pangasinan, Kalinga and Apayao felt the strong winds and rain.

However, television and radio reports showed that even provinces and communities that are at least 300 kms south of Cagayan and Ilocos Norte provinces felt the strength of Mangkhut’s rains and winds. That included the Philippines’ capital region, Metro Manila.

Reports are still being collected from across Luzon as to how many people died and are missing.

Estimated damages to crops and property will come after the storm leaves the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) tomorrow morning.

Death, damage estimates
As in every natural disaster, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRMMC) collects reports from local governments and provides estimates of deaths and damages to property within a week from the disaster.

Haima or Lawin left 18 Filipinos dead and damaged some 3.74 billion pesos (US$77.6 million) in damages.

It is not that Filipinos, their municipal/city/provincial governments, and the national government led by President Rodrigo Duterte were unprepared for this kind of natural disasters.

The Philippines learned bitter lessons on disaster preparedness and risk reduction the hard way when the world’s strongest typhoon Haiyan (local name: Yolanda) rammed coastal and landlocked communities in central Philippines —the Visayas group of Islands.

Haiyan left some 7000-10,000 people dead and a global outpouring of support and disaster aid to the Philippines.

Here in San Nicolas, a small hotel named Mira de Polaris felt the impact of a shattered glass and a huge SUV tyre fall down from the four-storey building.

On Friday, hotel owners had to cut down two trees in the hotel’s facade.

“We might create more damage had we not cut down those trees,” said a male receptionist.

Wrath of Haima
This place also felt the wrath of Haima: the roof a Shell gas station near Mira de Polaris, in Valdez Ave, collapsed in 2016.

This petrol station is still referred to as the “Shell station” by local jeepney drivers, but its markings as a Shell outlet are not as visible as before Haima struck.

President Rodrigo Duterte deployed department secretaries from affected areas to become the faces of national government’s support to affected typhoon victims.

Opening his third year in the presidency after his state of the nation address (SONA) on July 23, Duterte’s officials proposed to Philippine Congress that a department or ministry of disaster resilience be created.

Jeremaiah Opiniano is assistant professor of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) journalism programme. He is also a PhD student (geography) at the University of Adelaide, South Australia.

A father carries his sick child after their ambulance was blocked by a toppled electric post in Baggao town, Cagayan, Philippines, yesterday. Image: Ted Aljibe/Rappler/AFP

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Gallery: Climate change, disasters spark Indonesian-NZ research publication

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

AUT Indonesia Centre director Lester Finch and Auckland Indonesia Community representative Maman Baboe spoke strongly last night in support of Indonesian and New Zealand collaborative ventures such as the “Disasters, Cyclones and Communication” edition of Pacific Journalism Review, the first such joint media publication.

The Yoyakarta-based Center for Southeast Asian Social Studies (CESASS) at the Universitas Gadjah Mada collaborated with Auckland University of Technology’s Pacific Media Centre to produce this joint edition, edited by Professor David Robie and five colleagues including the evening’s MC and assistant editor Khariah Rahman and associate editor Dr Philip Cass.

The project also included research papers from the University of the South Pacific.

Photographs by PJR designer Del Abcede.

1. Book launch speaker Maman Baboe and MC/assistant editor of PJR Kharaiah Rahman at the launch. Image: Del Abcede

2. Mamam Baboe speaks about the launch of the Pacific Journalism Review edition. Image: Del Abcede

3. Dr David Robie and Khairiah Rahman – David praised the efforts of his co-editors and designer Del. Image: Del Abcede

4. Khairiah Rahman with A/Professor Tony Clear. Image: Del Abcede

5. Khairiah Rahman, AUT Indonesia Centre’s Lester Finch, Maman Baboe and Paul Janman. Image: Del Abcede

6. Dr David Robie, James Nicholson and Paul Janman. Image: Del Abcede

7. AUT Indonesia Centre’s Lester Finch and Little Island Press’s Tony Murrow. Image: Del Abcede

8. LIP’s Tony Murrow, A/Professor Tony Clear, Professor David Robie and Jim Marbrook. Image: Del Abcede

9. Designer Del Abcede discusses the PJR cover image of a floating” cemetery in Semarang, Central Java, impacted on by rising sea levels. Image: David Robie

10. Annie Cass and associate editor Dr Philip Cass. Image: Del Abcede

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Baliau village apologises for assault on PNG’s volcano island journalist

Manam volcano in the wake of the eruption. Image: James Tuguru/The PNG News Page

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

The village of Baliau on Papua New Guinea’s Manam island has publicly apologised to an assaulted journalist reporting for The National daily newspaper and praised media coverage in the wake of


Henry Konaka, chair of the Manam Development Association, said in a social media statement on behalf of the Baliau villagers and the village kukurai (leader), Casper Kauke, it was an “unfortunate and deplorable act of physical violence” on reporter Dorothy Mark and the media team.

He added that the “perpetrators” had been handed over to the police less than 24 hours later.

The assault has stirred protests from media freedom groups across the Pacific.

Konaka also condemned the neglect of the Manam islanders, many who live in refugee camps on the mainland in poverty since an evacuation after an eruption in 2004.


Konaka’s full apology:

“I extend on behalf of the people of Baliau village and the village kukurai, Casper Kauke, apology on the unfortunate and deplorable act of physical assault on Ms Dorothy Mark and the media team.

“We understand the fear and trauma Ms Mark and the rest of the media team have endured and we deeply regret. We the Baliau people assure 110 percent safety of Ms Mark and the rest of the media entourage.

“The kukurai regrets the incident which happened without his consent and knowledge. In assuring the entourage’s safety, the chief will be hosting a reconciliation as soon as possible and customarily apologise to Ms Mark and the affected entourage.

“The perpetrators had been handed over to the police less than 24 hours after the incident. A conciliatory meeting was held between the parties led by Acting Yabu LLG President Kenny Boli with police where compensatory agreement reached. A reconciliation ceremony is planned for within the next two weeks.

“With the gravest heart I had extended our profound sorrow and apology with shame and regret to Ms Mark, the husband (Peter Gupuri Mase), Ms Mark’s children, the extended family including the wider media community on the deplorable act of my frustrated people of Baliau. We deplore these acts in the strongest term possible, orchestrated and venged (sic) by a small minority.

“It is regrettable that our people have venged their frustrations and anger on an innocent party, least of which, the media fraternity and more particularly a woman. The Manam people are so indebted to the media fraternity on the news coverage of our continuing plight and despair. We value and hold the media fraternity with the highest regard.

“We hope that the government accepts responsibility on such an unfortunate incident due to its continuing neglect of our plight. The people of Manam had been demanding permanent and lasting solution to our plight and have agree to resettlement. However, no progress had been made since the enactment of the Manam Resettlement Authority (MRA) Act in April 2016.

“With regret to the assault, leaders and people of Baliau will continue to express their frustrations to government by not accept relief supplies including attempts to move to temporary care centres unless a permanent resettlement area is identified and allocated.

” feel for my people of Manam and on our continuing plight. I am prepared and happy to accept all ridicule and criticism on behalf of my people of Baliau and the wider Manam community.

“God bless you all.

Henry Konaka
Manam Peoples’s Sustainable Development Association

A Manam islander trying to breathe surrounded by ash. Image: James Tuguru/The PNG News Page

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Pacific media freedom groups blast assault on reporters on volcano island

The National reporter Dorothy Mark … assaulted while reporting on the volcano eruption in a village on Papua New Guinea’s Manam island. This photograph was taken on a different occasion. Image: poboxblog

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

Some villagers affected by the volcanic eruption on Manam island haven taken out their anger and frustration against four journalists covering the disaster, triggering protests by media freedom groups in the Pacific.

The reporters had entered Baliau village after visiting other affected villages and were questioned on the purpose of their visit, reports The National daily newspaper.

Villager Peter Sukua asked them why they were there and why they arrived one day after Saturday’s volcanic eruption.

He said the villagers would rather see Madang Governor Peter Yama and Bogia MP Robert Naguri.

The National reporter, Dorothy Mark, said she was stopped by Sukua taking pictures and punched in the face and threatened that her camera would be thrown into the sea.

“While I sat face down and spitting blood, they kicked me until some people intervened and stopped them,” she said.


The journalists were rescued by ward councillor for Dugulava village Paul Maburau and walked for one hour through a bush track.

They arrived at the Bieng Catholic station where they arranged for transportation to Bogia.

Sukua and others were later taken away by police.

Pacific groups condemn
The Suva-based Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) condemned the attack in a statement.

President Kora Nou, who is also the managing director of PNG’s National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), said he was “appalled and disappointed” by the attack and called for prosecution of those responsible.

The Auckland-based Pacific Media Centre called for strong action over the assault, saying the reporters were providing critical and important information in the public interest at a time of crisis.

The Rarotonga-based Pacific Freedom Forum also condemned the attack.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Desperate call for food, water from 5000 on Manam volcano island

EMTV’s Madang correspondent Martha Louis reports from Manam island. Video: EMTV

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

More than 5000 people, including children, on Papua New Guinea’s Manam Island are without food and clean water since the volcano erupted on Saturday morning.

Many houses were also destroyed by volcanic lava, while two villages were completely destroyed by the ash fall on Saturday.

Today is the third day since the eruption and islanders are now crying for food supplies and clean water to assist them.

EMTV journalist Martha Louis was on the island yesterday. Her pictures can be seen on the EMTV News Facebook page.

Activity has subsided at the volcano but it is still being monitored by the National Disaster Office.


A media conference called by the office yesterday was told a team had been sent to make a full assessment of the extent of the damage. An EMTV News video of their media conference is below.

EMTV News reports are republished by Asia Pacific Report with permission.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

PNG deploys ships and soldiers to Manam for emergency evacuation

The Manam volcano eruption. Image: Scott Waide/EMTV News

By Scott Waide in Lae

Madang Governor Peter Yama confirmed today that at least two Papua New Guinea Defence Force vessels were being sent to conduct emergency evacuations from Manam Island following the volcanic eruption yesterday.

“The Prime Minister has been very supportive since the he was informed,” the Madang governor said.

Yama was in Port Moresby to mobilise additional support from the national government.

READ MORE: PNG volcano erupts, forcing villagers to flee

“A platoon from the Engineering Battalion is traveling to Madang. HMS Dreger and Port Moresby have been allocated for the evacuation operation. Two officers from the PNGDF Headquarters are traveling to Madang to assist the Provincial Administrator.”

Government officers from Bogia district in Madang were deployed to Manam early yesterday after the volcano erupted.


The Acting Provincial Administrator, John Bivi, said his officers had been in close contact with village elders since the eruption.

“This eruption is different. There are two craters that have erupted and lava flow has happened. This is problematic.,” he said.

Houses collapsed
Manam Islander James Sukua, who contacted his family yesterday, said several trees and at least two houses had collapsed during the heavy ash fall.

At least two houses along the path of the lava flow were destroyed.

“Rain and ash fell in the morning in places like Baliau, Bien Station and Kuluguma. No casualties [were] reported.”

The Rabaul Volcano observatory reported that the ash column rose 15 km from the volcano.

The observatory also warned pilots to stay clear of the Manam airspace over the next 12 hours.

“Additional volcanic activity is possible in the coming days. Individuals planning to travel to Manam are advised to avoid the areas affected and to wear respiratory gear and covering clothing.”

About 2000 people live on the island.

Scott Waide is chief of the EMTV News bureau in Lae. This article was first published on his blog My Land, My Country and is republished by Asia Pacific Report with permission.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media