Published: Fri, March 09, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

A powerful natural disaster in Papua New Guinea: more than 50 dead

A powerful natural disaster in Papua New Guinea: more than 50 dead

"We express our condolences to the government and people of Papua New Guinea and pray that last night's aftershock would be the last", said Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano in a statement.

A strong 6.8-magnitude quake hit off the Papua New Guinea coast early Friday, but there was no tsunami warning or immediate reports of damage.

PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill flew over the worst-hit areas on Wednesday after a magnitude 6.7 aftershock struck the mountainous region already reeling from a 7.5 quake on February 26. The initial natural disaster, on Feb 26th, registered a magnitude of 7.5. Power is still out in most quake-hit regions.

Meanwhile, the country is still facing a long road to recovery after the powerful natural disaster that hit the nation's rugged highlands more than 10 days ago, with the death toll now believed to have climbed to more than 100.

"It is beyond the capacity of the provincial government to cope with the magnitude of destruction and devastation, " he said.

The International Red Cross on Thursday said its initial assessment showed that as many as 143,000 people could have been affected by the quakes, with an estimated 500 people injured and 17,000 people displaced from their homes due to the twin tremors. He said help from overseas and from local aid agencies was slowly coming in.

"It's a mammoth task", he added.

Landslides and damaged roads and bridges have made it impossible to reach some of the areas by land. "People's livelihoods are devastated, their personal property is gone". He said death reports were still coming in from remote places, and he feared the death toll would rise to over 100.

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