“I’ll NEVER forget!”

Posted: November 14, 2007 in Citizenship, Information, Out n About


On the morning of September 19, 1994, two volcanic cones – Vulcan and Tavurvur – began erupting on the opposite side of the harbour from the town. This was a powerful eruption!  

Ash fell all over the town and was first reported to be 20-25 cm (8-10 inches) deep, and it later was as much as 75 cm deep (about two feet). Heavy rains turned the ash into mud that fianlly dried to be nearly as hard as cement. The roofs of many buildings collapsed from the weight of the ash.  A small lava flow came from a vent near Tavurvur and flowed slowly for about 25 days.

Also, some of the clouds of ash eruptions collapsed back on themselves and a mixture of ash and gases flowed rapidly down the side of the volcanoes and out into the bay.  The eruptions declined in strength, and by Oct. 2, Vulcan was no longer erupting; Tavurvur continued throughout October and November.  

Despite the great danger of this eruption, only five people died; four from collapses of roofs, and one person was struck by lightning. The reason so few people were hurt is that volcanologists at Rabaul had been expecting an eruption someday. They had educated the people of Rabaul to the dangers of volcanic eruptions and even practiced eruption drills – sort of like fire drills in a school. When intense earthquakes started the night before the eruption, the volcanologists and government officials evacuated nearly all of the town people before the eruption started.  

This was a tremendous success for science, for that night and the next few days, nearly 50,000 people were removed from a place of great danger to safety. Rabaul did not become a great tragedy, but was a great triumph! 

Watching the events on TV or reading it on paper was one thing but to actually be there and to see the plight of the people living in now the “ghost town” is another.  

Walking down Mango Avenue and to the old Rabaul Airport, my heart leaps for the villages. Children playing in the dust……I wonder if any of them have seen the REAL Rabaul in its beauty????? 

I promised Rabaul “I will NEVER forget” 

  1. Dee says:

    I don’t think anyone who grew up in the old Rabaul will forget it’s beauty – I know I won’t. At least it went with a ‘bang’ , not a whimper!

  2. Rex says:

    So true…..Rabaul went off with a “Bang”! It grieves my heart to see it in that state….. 😦 😦 😦 But I guess, thats nature and we will have to come to terms with it someday!

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