A SECOND earthquake has struck Papua New Guinea (PNG), only a week after the first killed more than 60 people and left thousands in need of humanitarian aid.
The latest earthquake, which had a magnitude of 6.7, struck just after midnight on Wednesday (local time).
Last week’s earthquake, which had a 7.5 magnitude, was described as the strongest to hit the Highlands region of PNG for more than a century. A state of emergency has been declared by the government, and rescue workers are still struggling to reach remote villages after roads and runways were destroyed.
World Vision’s supply co-ordinator, Megan Gaure, was close to the epicentre of the first earthquake. “I thought I was going to die, and prayed for God’s protection, and that the building wouldn’t collapse on us,” she said.
“We learned from hospital staff that bodies of dead children and the elderly were being brought to the hospital. I witnessed injured people, mostly suffering from fractured bones, being brought in for treatment from within Tari and nearby villages that had access to the hospital.”
There have been dozens of strong aftershocks, culminating in the latest earthquake on Wednesday.
Thousands of people remained homeless and without food and clean water in the Southern Highlands, Western, Enga, and Hela provinces, the Red Cross said. Blocked roads and power outages, as well as the aftershocks, are hampering rescue efforts. There are concerns about poor sanitation, and the risk of the spread of diseases such as dysentery. Three church-led response centres were set up after last week’s earthquake to help co-ordinate recovery efforts.
The Anglican Board of Mission (ABM) in Australia has launched an appeal to raise money to supply food and water to those affected. ABM warned: “About 150,000 [people] are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. Many highland villages, particularly in the area west of Mount Hagen, have been cut off by fallen power lines and blocked roads. This situation is hampering efforts to distribute emergency supplies to remote villages.
“There is a real concern of food shortages, as well as health and hygiene issues, if aid cannot reach the victims of this disaster.”
The Primate of Papua New Guinea, the Most Revd Allan Migi, has also appealed for donations and prayers for the region.