Nearly 1.5 lakh people are in need of urgent emergency supplies in Papua New Guinea, a week after a 7.6-magnitude earthquake struck the country, Reuters reported on Sunday. Aid workers said the toll from the February 26 earthquake had climbed to 67, but the government has not released an official figure yet.
Several provinces in the highlands of Papua New Guinea felt strong aftershocks. In the Southern Highlands, people felt three aftershocks – each stronger than magnitude 5.0 on the Richter scale, reported The Guardian.
Around 7,000 people have been rendered homeless, and 1.47 lakh are in need of food, water and sanitation facilities, the director of the International Red Cross in Papua New Guinea told Reuters.
“The challenge is road access – they are still not accessible to trucks and four-wheel drives,” Udaya Regmi said. “Big trucks cannot go there. It’s one of the reasons there is a shortage of food. There is no fear of starvation yet, but we don’t have the full picture.”
Earthquakes are common in Papua New Guinea, which sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, a hotspot for seismic activity. Last Monday’s earthquake was the strongest in the region in nearly a century.
On March 1, the government in Papua New Guinea declared a state of emergency, which made it easier for state aid and military help to reach affected areas faster. Prime Minister Peter O’Neill called it an “unprecedented disaster” and said an “appropriate response” by the government was under way. It has allocated 450 million kina (Rs 905 crore) for disaster relief.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies had earlier announced aid worth $221,000 (Rs 1.4 crore) to help relief efforts. It will also send first aid, water, mosquito nets and shelters to the region. Australia has promised 2 lakh Australian dollars (Rs 1.01 crore) in aid.