Mount Lamington Eruption – photos from Fred Kleckham

Mount Lamington began to erupt on the night of January 18, 1951. Three days later there was a violent eruption when a large part of the northern side of the mountain was blown away and devastating pyroclastic flows (steam and smoke) poured from the gap for a considerable time afterwards.

The area of extreme damage extended over a radius of about 12 km, while people near Higaturu, 14 km from the volcano, were killed by the blast or burned to death. The pyroclastic flows and subsequent eruptions of dust and ash which filled streams and tanks, caused the death of some 3,000 persons, and considerable damage. More than 5,000 people were made homeless.

Rescue parties which arrived on the scene were hampered by suffocating pumice dust and sulphurous fumes, and hot ashes on the ground. The advance post of relief workers at Popondetta was threatened with destruction by other eruptions during the several days following. Further tremors and explosions occurred during February. As late as 5 March a major eruption occurred which threw large pieces of the volcanic dome as far as three kilometres and caused a flow of pumice and rocks for a distance of 14km, the whole time being so hot as to set fire to every tree in its path.

A personal account of events related to the devastating eruption can be found in the Book “The Volcano’s Wife” HERE.



Worked for Burns Philp in Popondetta and Port Moresby from 1980 through 1987

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