Wednesday, July 22, 1998 Published at 14:44 GMT 15:44 UK
Race to beat disease for wave survivors
Survivor Fidelis Kempa: His six grandchildren all died
Some 1,600 people have now been confirmed dead in West Sepik province and the army is incinerating corpses in mass graves in an attempt to keep infection at bay.
The lack of proper burial and the inability to carry out proper funeral rites is an extra source of distress for relatives.
Searches are under way to find remaining survivors before sickness can take hold.
Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister, Bill Skate, has expressed fears that the number of people killed could be higher than the worst estimates made so far.
His views echoed those of relief workers who said there were many corpses in the mangrove swamps behind the seven villages swept away by the giant tsunami waves which hit the north-west coast last week.
Relief agencies also believe many bodies were swept out to sea when the giant waves turned, and that the final death toll may therefore never be known.
Australian soldiers are helping locals bury as many of the dead as possible, sometimes having to simply cover them where they lie, with little attempt at formal identification.
Our correspondent says those who are left alive say they are too frightened to return to the site of their old homes because the lagoons, which were once central to their lives, are now filled with the dead.
In draining heat and humidity the injured are being treated in makeshift hospitals.
Rescue workers say that the chances of the injured remaining alive in the cloying heat are now becoming increasingly remote.
They say there is a severe lack of clean water and food.
The Australian air force has flown in three planeloads of supplies to a tiny church airfield inland from the devastated coastline.
The United Nations, the Commonwealth and Pope John Paul have urged the world to help the survivors.
The economy is in poor shape, still recovering from a year-long drought in which thousands of people starved to death.
Tsunami are commonly known as a tidal waves but actually have nothing to do with tides - they are started by a seismic shock and run from the ocean floor to the surface.