Malaguna Village, adjoining Rabaul town, is among the worst hit areas; villagers mostly just hunkered down and waited it out. Tavurvur, Rabaul, 29 August 2014

14-09-27 P1170713 Cleaning roof Malex

Residents of Malaguna Village are used to it -- they get the ash and smoke blowing out at them all the time, even with very minor eruptions. But this was a big one, and as Tavurvur roared, they sheltered in their houses and hoped for the best. The fact that there had been no official warning of an eruption told them that it would not be enormous (the Rabaul volcanoes are closely monitored and the signs presaging a really major eruption are obvious), but how big is bad enough?

Sweeping dust off the corrugated iron room of a house in Malaguna Village. There is a need to get rid of the dust as it is corrosive -- dust + moisture = sulphuric acid. Light sweeping -- the dusk is also very abrasive -- gets most of it off the roof and hopefully, a bit of rain will take off the rest. The pawpaw (papaya) tree and other vegetation in the foreground have gone; as have the coconut palms in the background. The hot, acidic dust has killed leaves and simply weighed down leaves and branches. Many branches and some whole trees are felled just by the weight. P1170713

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