Five killed as powerful earthquake strikes Papua New Guinea

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Videos from the aftermath of the 7.6 magnitude earthquake showed broken roads and damaged buildings.

A magnitude 7.6 earthquake struck Papua New Guinea, damaging buildings, causing landslides and killing at least five people.

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The United States Geological Survey said the quake struck at a depth of 61 km (38 mi) on Sunday morning, about 67 km (41 mi) from the eastern city of Kenantu.

Local MP KC Sawang said at least two people died in remote hill villages, while four others were taken to hospital in critical condition. In nearby Wau, the Koranga Alluvial Mining said three miners were buried alive.

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“There has been extensive damage,” Sawang said, adding that landslides buried homes and “divided” a village where people “lost their homes”.

The nation’s leader, James Marpe, said the quake was “massive” and called on people to remain alert, but said he expected the damage to be minimal compared to the 2018 earthquake and series of aftershocks, In which an estimated 150 people were killed.

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However, the scale of damage and casualties caused by Sunday’s earthquake is still unclear.

“National and provincial disaster agencies as well as leaders have been asked to assess the damage and injuries caused to people and to address them as soon as possible,” Marpe said.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Asia and the Pacific (OCHA) said in a report posted on Twitter that at least four deaths and four injuries were reported.

It said people were injured and some health centres, homes, rural roads and highways were damaged by falling buildings or debris.

Electricity infrastructure in the affected areas was damaged, leading to an outage in the Eastern Highlands.

‘challenging’ access

Residents of Papua New Guinea shared images and videos of broken roads, damaged buildings and cars and objects falling from supermarket shelves on social media.

Video of damage to a university in the eastern highland city of Goroka shows large cracks in the walls of walls and windows during the quake.

Small aviation companies and missionary groups were involved in airlifting some of the injured across the rough jungle landscape.

“It’s very difficult, the terrain, the weather. It’s challenging,” said Nellie Pumai of Manolos Aviation, who had pulled a man out and was trying to return.

The quake was brought closest to the epicenter and local people in Madang said that the quake was much stronger than before.

“Very strong, everything was like sitting on the ocean – just floating,” said Hivi Apokor, a worker at the Jais Aben Resort near Madang.

Earthquakes are common in Papua New Guinea, which lies on the Pacific Ocean’s “Ring of Fire”, a hotspot for seismic activity caused by friction between tectonic plates.

In 2018, a 7.5-magnitude earthquake struck remote mountainous areas of the country, killing more than 100 people and damaging thousands of homes.

In 2004 in neighboring Indonesia, a 9.1 magnitude earthquake triggered a tsunami that killed 220,000 people across the region.

Credit: www.aljazeera.com /

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