Hela disaster team visits quake-stricken areas

The Hela Provincial Disaster Committee made a series of trips by chopper this morning to assess the situation.

A medical team has been dispatched and medevac exercises have commenced today as well.

The Hela Provincial Disaster Committee is headed by Provincial Administrator William Bando and comprises the Tari Hospital CEO, Oil Search Foundation, Hela Province provincial police commander and stakeholders.

The committee made a series of trips to Koroba-Kopiago, Tari-Pori, Komo and parts of Western and Sandaun Provinces and have reported extensive damage.

“We have to take it seriously and address the people, especially in the rural areas,” said Minister for Inter-governmental Relations, Kevin Isifu.

He added road accessibility is the biggest problem and this will be the priority area in the rehabilitation program.

Dr Tana Kiap from Hela Provincial Hospital, who is also part of the team, confirmed the first medevac exercise was conducted this morning with 4 seriously injured victims rescued from Mananda village and later at Komo.

He also said there are so many injured and more medevac exercises are expected in the coming days.

Tari-Pori MP, James Marape, said witnessing the people’s need in the far corners of Hela was very emotional. 

“Death tolls have gone past 30 and mid this week, we will have almost all information on the extent of damages,” he said.

“We have Oil Search and ExxonMobil plus PNG Defence Force, the National Disaster office and other NGOs on the ground now, trying to assist.” 

On site today was Hela Governor Phillip Undialu and the 3 open members, Marape, Petrus Thomas and Manasseh Makiba. Accompanying them were Isifu and Telefomin member Solan Mirisim.


Carolyn Ure