By Marianne Benny
Over some years ago, there was a coastal town in Papua New Guinea called Rabaul. It was a very nice and peaceful place and people were friendly. People from nearby provinces go there for holiday. Nobody worried about the volcano which was near them, they enjoyed themselves. Around midday, everyone was sitting down to have lunch; suddenly an explosion began to rip the air. The volcano had erupted!
One town near Rabaul was covered by boiling hot mud from the eruption which flowed down from the mountain and killed a child in the town. He was about 14 years of age whose leg was paralysed and couldn’t run away. He must have sat helplessly in his house watching the mud getting higher and higher.
In Rabaul alone, only a few people manage to escape. Many people tried to carry their valuable goods with them safely but others hid in their houses waiting for the eruption to finish. These people were choked to death by clouds of poisonous gas which came from the volcano. The town was covered by thick layers of volcano ash over four-metres deep.
Many years have passed and people forgot what had happened to Rabaul for nearly Seventeen hundred bodies lay undisturbed was found again and people started to dig through the layers of ash. They found all the houses and streets almost the same as they were on that terrible day when the volcano erupted.
The ash now been cleared away from about three quarters of the town. We can study the way wealthy Rabaul lived before the volcano. We can see the shops and houses and can walk through the streets where they lived. We can still see the bodies of the people and what they were going to have for lunch on that day.
These people had a very high standard of living; the houses were big with many rooms. They had running water and toilets in the room, the walls were covered with painting and floors were often decorated with patterns of small coloured stone tiles. It is strange that the volcano which killed the people of Rabaul also kept the town unchanged for years.
* Marianne Benny is from Central province and she’s in grade 7 (purple) at New Erima Primary School.