December 10, 2008 / 9:25 AM / 12 years ago

Huge waves smash PNG villages-media

PORT MORESBY, Dec 10 (Reuters) - Huge waves caused by king tides smashed into dozens of villages and towns in northern Papua New Guinea, destroying homes and flooding businesses and a hospital, local media reported on Wednesday.

Authorities said there were no reports of casualties, but they were still trying to contact several outlying islands after the waves hit across an 800 km (500 mile) stretch of ocean on Tuesday. Hundreds of people were left homeless

The waves struck PNG’s north coast near the town of Wewak and islands to the northeast, such as New Ireland.

"Huge waves that lasted for about six hours lashed these areas and created pools as deep as two metres, sending sediment and debris flooding into homes and businesses," reported The National newspaper.

New Ireland disaster coordinator Elsie Wambun told The Post Courier newspaper the sea rose up to 1.5 metres (4.5 ft).

"The wave took out the hospital," said Nessie Amos from Kavieng on New Ireland. "The hospital’s equipment was washed out but patients were saved and taken to another hospital."

Papua New Guinea lies on "the Ring of Fire", a zone of volcanic activity which accounts for 75 percent of the world’s active and dormant volcanoes.

An undersea earthquake off PNG’s north coast in 1998 caused 15-metre (50 ft) tsunamis that destroyed the coastal town of Aitape, killing more than 2,000 people. (Editing by Dean Yates)

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