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Five killed in 7.6-magnitude earthquake in Papua New Guinea

A 7.6-magnitude earthquake killed at least five people in Papua New Guinea today. The earthquake occurred 67 kilometers from the city of Kenanto and about 480 kilometers from the capital, Port Moresby, at a depth of 61 kilometers, according to the US Seismological Survey (USGS). Meanwhile, the USGS issued a tsunami warning, but later raised it.

AP / Renagi Ravu

However, the earthquake was felt as far as the capital. According to Representative Casey Swang, two people were killed in remote mountain villages. At least four other people were taken to hospitals with serious injuries. There is “great damage” and people are buried, a village literally divided in two. Many people are homeless. Three miners are buried alive in the nearby city of Wau, according to operator Koranga Alluvial Mining.

Prime Minister James Marab described the earthquake as “enormous” and called on people to be vigilant. According to him, the extent of the damage was initially unknown. However, he assumes that the damage will be less than in the 2018 earthquake, which is estimated to have killed 150 people.

Hard to reach area

The area severely affected by the earthquakes is forested, difficult to access, has insufficient communication networks, and is ignored by state authorities. Airlines and missionary groups participated in air rescue operations for the wounded.

Neighbors from close to the epicenter reported severe shaking that caused cracks in the streets and damaged the facades of houses. Power outages and damage to buildings have been reported in parts of the country north of Australia. Pictures from a university in the eastern city of Goroka showed large cracks in the walls and window shades falling off.

Papua New Guinea is located on the Pacific Ring of Fire. Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions often occur there. On Christmas 2004, a 9.1-magnitude earthquake in neighboring Indonesia triggered a tsunami that killed about 220,000 people in the entire region, including about 170,000 in Indonesia.

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