5 Dead, 1,000 Homes Ruined In Papua New Guinea Quake

The seismic disturbance, registering a magnitude of 6.9, inflicted substantial damage in Papua New Guinea, claiming the lives of a minimum of five individuals and rendering approximately 1,000 homes uninhabitable, as reported by officials on Monday.

When the earthquake struck early Sunday morning, numerous villages nestled along the banks of Papua New Guinea’s renowned Sepik River were already contending with inundating floods.

East Sepik Governor Allan Bird remarked that up to that point, approximately 1,000 homes had been destroyed. He emphasized that emergency teams were continuously evaluating the repercussions of the tremor, which had wreaked havoc across the majority of the province.

AFP received confirmation from Provincial Police Commander Christopher Tamari that authorities had recorded five fatalities in the aftermath of the disaster.

Tamari issued a cautionary note, stating that as emergency crews venture further into the isolated and densely forested region, the number of fatalities “could rise.”

Visuals depicted crumbling wooden houses with thatched roofs sinking into the knee-high floodwaters, while an antiquated bridge in the provincial capital of Wewak visibly bowed under the strain.

Read also: Four Dead As Powerful Earth Quake Rattles Japan

Regional governor Bird said there was a pressing need to get medical supplies, clean drinking water, and temporary shelter into the disaster zone.

Prime Minister James Marape has approved a US$130 million emergency funding package to help recovery efforts following “a spate of natural disasters” across the country.

“Papua New Guinea has been recently hit hard by (the) earthquake, flooding caused by heavy rain and ensuing landslips, king tides, strong winds, and others,” he said in a statement Sunday evening following the quake.

Flooding, landslides, and torrential rains earlier this month killed at least 23 people in Papua New Guinea’s interior Highlands region.

The Sepik River twists for hundreds of kilometres through Papua New Guinea’s East Sepik province, flowing down from the jungle highlands and out towards the tropical coast.

Largely untouched by urban development and industry, it is one of the nation’s last pristine waterways — and is the longest river on the island.

Teeming with native species and rare plants, it has in the past been dubbed the planet’s “second Amazon”.

Papua New Guinea frequently experiences earthquakes due to its location atop the seismic “Ring of Fire,” a volatile zone of tectonic movement spanning Southeast Asia and stretching across the expanse of the Pacific basin.

While their impact on the sparsely inhabited jungle highlands is usually limited, these earthquakes have the potential to induce devastating landslides.

In remote regions away from major urban hubs, where many of the island nation’s nine million people live, the challenging terrain and absence of properly constructed roads can greatly hinder search-and-rescue endeavors.

The 2022 World Risk Index positions Papua New Guinea as the 16th most vulnerable country worldwide to the impacts of climate change and natural calamities.

Africa Today News, New York

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