By Scott Waide – EM TV, Henganofi
More than 5,000 people in four wards in Henganofi, Eastern Highlands, are facing a food shortage after a hailstorm destroyed food gardens last night.
In the same area, a landslide caused by the storm has also cut off the Highlands highway putting the six other Highlands provinces at risk of food and fuel shortages.
“First, hailstones the size of rice grains fell,” said one villager. “Then, when it fell the second time, they were the size of ice cubes. Then ice the size of my hand fell with rain.”
The large hailstones fell through the thatched roofs while the heavy rains brought more than 30 centimetres of mud and debris into the villages.
‘We haven’t slept all night. We’ve been shovelling dirt and mud all morning.”
Of great concern now is the food shortages the villages will face. All the food gardens have been levelled by the hailstorm and cash crops like tomatoes, cabbages and carrots destroyed.
Police Minister and Henganofi MP, Robert Atiyafa, accompanied a team from the works department and disaster and emergency service to the sight this morning. He has since made a request to the Prime Minister for urgent funding for relief supplies.
Meanwhile, the Eastern Highlands provincial government is expected to provide 250,000 kina for immediate relief while work clearing the road begins in two days.