Aitape Story: The Great New Guinea Tsunami of 1998 (Halstead Press), by Hugh Davies
In 1998, a tsunami struck Aitape, a small town on the north coast of Papua New Guinea, and nearby villages.
Hugh Davies is a professor of geology at the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG). Born in Australia he first visited PNG in 1957.
In 1994, Davies assisted volcanologists after the volcanic eruption that laid waste to Rabaul. From 1998 to 2001 he was intimately involved with many aspects of the Aitape tsunami aftermath.
His book, in part, recounts the events of July 17, 1998, after the waves (there were three) pummelled Aitape, swept away two villages – Warapu and Arop – and damaged others. Up to 2200 people died, many were injured, and about 11,000 people abandoned their coastal village sites and moved inland.
The book covers many aspects of the disaster, including the emergency response, and serves as a tribute to those who died. Davies lived among the Aitape survivors for months. “I know part of him never left the tsunami-affected area,” wrote one friend.
The book can be bought from the University Bookshop, UPNG.