Friday, July 16, 1999 Published at 13:34 GMT 14:34 UK
Tidal devastation: One year on
The lives of the people from this peninsula have changed - perhaps forever
By the BBC's Michael Peschardt
A year ago this weekend, one of the world's worst tidal waves - known as a tsunami - hit a series of villages in Papua New Guinea, killing hundreds of people.
Many local people spent months searching for loved ones after the tragedy. Their graves still litter the beach.
The tsunami hit at night, destroying villages across a thin spit of land bordering a lagoon. It followed a powerful earthquake out at sea.
Lagoon rife with disease
Rescuers attempted to bury the dead as soon as possible, but many bodies were jammed into the tops of palm trees.
Health problems persist.
"One of the big problems in this area is that people have to walk for days and days to reach a hospital," said Dr Menno Swier from Aitapi Hospital.
"Most of them are so sick that you really have to hope they are going to recover."
Fear of the sea
The wave has changed everything, perhaps for ever.
The people of the lagoon were a seafaring people. They have now moved inland, too frightened of the sea which once provided their living and their way of life.
"We find it very, very hard. We are not used to this," said Ansselm Rayan, a villager who has been displaced.
"We used to live on the beach, the children loved to play and swim on the beach."
One of most remote areas of earth, this is a place where superstition and religious faith have become deeply enmeshed.
"The damage wasn't only physical, it was mental, it was spiritual, it was traditional, it was cultural," said recovery co-ordinator, Tas Makatu.
"The resilience of the people has never ceased to amaze me. The people are strong and courageous. And their willingness to live life is tremendous."
Some families have returned to the seashore, attempting to resume their old life, but for most it is still far too soon.