The earthquake struck a remote, mountainous region, about 500 kilometers from the country’s capital, Port Moresby. While the region has no major urban centers, around 670,000 people live within 100 kilometers of the earthquake’s epicenter.
At least 16 people are confirmed dead with the death toll expected to rise dramatically as reports come in of entire villages buried under landslides. There has been widespread damage, with concrete roads destroyed and bridges snapped.
Essential services such as power and communications were cut, with further landslides expected as heavy rains continued to fall overnight.
Uvenama Rova, secretary general of the PNG Red Cross, said it is one of the largest earthquakes to ever strike Papua New Guinea. “It’s right in the centre of our country and we don’t know how many casualties yet. We are still in the assessment stage but we know schools and infrastructure are devastated, and normal activities within Tari and Mendi town have shut down.”
The Australian Government has already promised $200,000 for aid and has provided a first shipment of supplies — tarpaulins, water containers and purification tablets.
Papua New Guinea Red Cross and the International Federation of the Red Cross are already on the ground providing assistance to those affected. Australian Red Cross is on standby ready to help if needed.
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