Read about the work and travel of VSA's staff.
Published on 29th August 2014
VSA's Media Officer Sarah Barnett blogs about the latest news from Kokopo. (All volunteers and staff in the area are safe and well.)
Remember yesterday, when the volcano was gently belching? This morning my phone rang at 5am – Howard (PNG Country Programme Manager) calling to say it was erupting. "Don’t evacuate – get outside and take pictures!"
It’s almost 20 years to the day since the 1994 eruption which destroyed huge amounts of Rabaul town, forcing the capital of East New Britain to relocate. Tavurvur has erupted on and off ever since.
From our rooms, we can see straight across to the three conical volcanoes (Tavurvur is the smallest). Just as it looked like the fireworks had stopped, there was another boom, and it blew out the side.
Right now, smoke, presumable from lava, is rolling down the sides. It’s odd that an event this huge isn’t already all over the news. Getting information has been difficult, according to Howard and a pair of Air Niugini pilots who are staying here. The ash column was up to 30,000 feet, they said, but flights are still going – just keeping away from the ash. We can see the volcano throwing rocks in the air – it’s clear that it’s not a trifling matter.
I just walked back from the beach to my room and passed the TV in the bar, which was playing the news. I stopped for a moment in case there was something about Tavurvur, but no, the breaking news this morning is that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have got married. Right now, it feels like we’re on a different planet.