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|Area of the alleged incident|
The villagers were allegedly told by cult leaders not to attend church services or take part in community activities, as the "rising of the dead" would be accompanied by goods and services being delivered to the island.
"Villagers have been told not to go to church because it was a waste of time," an islander said.
He said the men and womenfolk on the island, which is a three-days journey by boat from the provincial capital Alotau, have stopped attending to their food gardens out of fear of reprisals from cult leaders.
Police at Misima Island's Bwagaoia station, which serves as the headquarters for Misima district encompassing adjacent islands and the main islands of Misima, Sudest and Rossel, confirmed receiving a report of cult activity on Rossel when contacted by the Post-Courier on Wednesday.
Station commander Senior Inspector Levi Stanley said he had received a report from a policeman stationed at Sudest Island after a Rossel Islander raised the alarm.
The cult's ringleaders were allegedly respected leaders of the community on the isolated island, he said.
However, Inspector Stanley said bad weather coupled with lack of funds to buy fuel had hampered attempts by his men to travel east by boat to Rossel to confirm the report. He said he had asked the provincial administration in Alotau for help but was yet to get a response because of a technical fault with a telecommunications repeater station.
"I believe the report is true. I will send three to four officers and I will accompany them to investigate and apprehend the ringleaders," said Inspector Stanley.
"As soon as I get money we will go but I haven't got a response from Alotau yet."
Inspector Stanley said representatives and area managers for the Samarai-Murua area and the Yele-Yamba Local-Level Government would accompany him.