7.5 magnitude earthquake

Report from MAF’s aerial survey

The survey flight identified many new landslides, several of them impacting roadways to various degrees. There is sporadic damage to buildings, but the damage does not appear to be widespread. 

Sharlene Coker of MAF PNG writes:

Australia extends sympathies to quake-affected region

The quake struck in the early hours of 26 February and aftershocks continue to be recorded.

In a statement, the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, said: “We are saddened to hear reports of lives lost and many people being injured. 

“Given the challenging terrain and remoteness of the area, we expect that the extent of the damage will become clearer in coming days.

“At the request of the Papua New Guinean Government, Australia is today providing a RAAF C-130 to conduct aerial surveillance and provide logistical support to the PNG Defence Force.

Opposition calls for SOE in SHP, Hela

Pruaitch said the National Executive Council meeting today at 2pm should consider an SOE in both provinces so remedial work can be immediately undertaken, major highways made safe for travel and essential services restored as quickly as possible.

The Opposition has also commended Prime Minister Peter O’Neill for the Government’s quick response to the disastrous earthquake that has severely impacted the oil and gas producing provinces.

Community leader upset with disaster response

John Tipa is one of the many victims of the earthquake that struck the Highlands region at 3.44am on Monday (Feb 26).

“I lost everything that’s why I’m very upset with the provincial government employees here, from the deputies to the directors,” Tipa said.

“They have vehicles, they have been resourced; they have to be here on the ground to assist all the victims throughout the province.

“Where are all the public servants?”

All OSL staff accounted for

In a statement, the firm said: “Due to damage sustained to a number of our camp sites and to ensure the ongoing safety and welfare of our staff, the Company has commenced demobilising all non-essential personnel to Port Moresby.

“This exercise will continue over the next few days.”

PNG’s export revenue affected: PM

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, after returning from the affected areas late yesterday afternoon, described the situation as a ‘sad day for PNG’.

“It is unfortunate whilst the economy is turning around and the commodity prices around the global markets have improved, which resulted in the increased in the country’s revenue, we are faced with this enormous challenge.

“Our appeal is to all the people to understand the challenges that few of the provinces have been going through.”

PM observes firsthand aftermath of quake disaster

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill flew into Hela and Southern Highlands this morning to see for himself the aftermath of the situation.

He described the situation as ‘sad day for PNG’ as the biggest source of revenue, PNG LNG project, has been affected.

“We have tried our best to attend to immediate challenges by deploying members of the PNGDF and Disaster officers to the affected areas.”

The two provincial governors and administrators are now on the ground to assess the situation.

Quake affects BSP operations

In a statement, the Bank said: “Our staff are safe but as with other people in these communities, they have suffered damages to housing and personal items.”

BSP branches at Porgera, Wabag and Mt Hagen also experienced minor damage as a result of the earthquakes but remain open.

BSP sub branches at Tambul, Pangia, Wapenamanda and Ialibu also remain open.

The management and staff are currently assessing the overall destruction to their branches and equipment for appropriate repairs to be carried out, and the reopening of branches affected.

20 PNGDF platoons in SHP: Col Numa

Following Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s orders for the PNGDF to initiate immediate response to the earthquake yesterday, PNGDF Chief of Staff, Colonel Raymond Numa, has confirmed the presence of troops on ground.

Col Numa said PNGDF personnel are stationed exclusively in Southern Highlands, Enga and Hela provinces, while the headquarters is based in Mt Hagen, Western Highlands Province.

Hela focuses on restoration, relief

Governor Philip Undialu said according to information they have received so far, most of the powerlines, roads, health and education infrastructure have all crumbled during the quake.

One of the most seriously affected areas is the LNG site and the facilities, which are currently on a temporary shutdown.