Two dozen people have already died from hunger and drinking contaminated water in drought-stricken Papua New Guinea, but the looming El Niño crisis could leave more than four million people across the Pacific without enough food or clean water.
The El Niño weather pattern – when waters in the eastern tropical Pacific ocean become warmer, driving extreme weather conditions – may be as severe as in 1997-98, when an estimated 23,000 people died, forecasters believe.
In Papua New Guinea’s Chimbu province in the highlands region, a prolonged drought has been exacerbated by sudden and severe frosts which have killed off almost all crops. The provincial disaster centre has confirmed 24 people have died from starvation and drinking contaminated water.
Provincial disaster co-ordinator Michael Ire Appa told RadioNZ he feared the death toll could even be higher.
“The drought has been here for almost three months now and in areas that were affected by the drought there’s a serious food shortage, including water, and some of the districts have not reported, so there may be more [deaths] than that,” he said. Read more.
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
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