Death toll reached 55: CBC

As of midday today, 55 people have been confirmed dead in parts of Hela and Southern Highlands provinces.

This is according to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference based on reports received from the Mendi Diocese in SHP.

General Secretary for Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, Father Victor Roche, said coordination amongst authorities, churches and parties on ground is key during this trying time. 

Initial reports provided by the Mendi Diocese following the earthquake confirm 20 deaths in Hela Province and 35 in parts of Mendi.

These figures account for just fractions of both provinces while attempts to update these statistics are ongoing.

Father Victor said coordination from the government right down to people on site at the impacted areas is crucial to enable swift coordination of relief efforts.

“Schools, houses, clinics, roads and bridges have been affected and people are finding it difficult to move around and relief efforts are also hampered by this, so it is good that we coordinate more,” Fr Roche stated.

He also confirmed fathers, priests and sisters are giving counselling to those affected and is encouraging everyone to stand firm in their faith.

“We send our condolences to those families who lost their loved ones. We are with you,” added Fr Victor.

Priests and dioceses will have a meeting on Tuesday, March 6th, and Wednesday, March 7th, to assess the damages, update statistics and coordinate relief efforts.

Carolyn Ure