Killed In Papua New Guinea Earthquake Aftershocks

Papua New Guinea (PNG) declared a state of emergency across the earthquake-hit region last week but the scale of the disaster will not be known until relief workers and authorities can complete their assessments in the area.

The 7.5 magnitude quake that hit Papua New Guinea on February 26 continues to devastate the Pacific nation, with the total death toll of the natural disaster and its aftershocks reaching 67 on Monday.

Three aftershocks of magnitude greater than 5 shook the mountainous Southern Highlands, about 600 km (370 miles) northwest of the capital Port Moresby early on Monday, the US Geological Survey said, including a shallow magnitude 6 quake.

The 7.5 magnitude quake killed dozens of people and caused widespread damage.

Compounding the fallout was an announcement Monday that the impoverished country's biggest-ever development - the PNG LNG project operated by U.S. energy giant ExxonMobil - will be offline for up to eight weeks as the quake-hit facilities undergo repairs.

"Most people have been traumatised emotionally from all that is happening and the continual earthquakes going on, their gardens and even homes have collapsed".

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"We know at least 500 people are injured and 127,000 people need immediate aid such as food, water, shelter and healthcare" Regmi said.

Australian oil and gas companies Santos (ASX:STO) and Oil search (ASX:OSH) say it will take about 8 weeks to fix the liquefied natural gas project which they have stakes in following last weeks quake.

"Public health and public hygiene are now concerns", Anna Bryan, program director for CARE International in PNG, said.

Australian and New Zealand defence forces have pitched in to deliver aid, while the China Red Cross and Beijing have pledged financial aid.

"The challenge is road access, it's still not accessible to trucks and four-wheel drives", Regmi said.

ExxonMobil PNG managing director Andrew Barry said production at the US$19 billion project would be restored as quickly as possible, adding that it was an "unprecedented event for the country" and the firm.

  • Sonia Alvarado