EARTHQUAKE DEATH TOLL REACHES 75 IN HELA & SHP
|Locals at Limu village in Komo-Magarima standing at a burial site where a woman and her children were killed during the earthquake.|
Thousands of people have been displaced and are still waiting for relief assistance in disaster affected areas in Hela and Southern Highlands provinces a week after the 7.5 magnitude earthquake destroyed their homes and food gardens in the early hours of Monday 26th February.
Aftershocks below 5 magnitude have been experienced in the last 7 days with locals on high alert and awaiting relief supplies and assistance in evacuations to safer grounds.
Hela Provincial Hospital in Tari confirmed a total of 38 deaths and 8 unconfirmed deaths this afternoon (Monday). Today a medical team was deployed into Limu and Homapawa villages in the Benere ward area where a a total of 21 deaths were confirmed.
Homapawa village confirmed 10 deaths and Timu 11. Of the 11 in Timu, 4 have been retrieved and given proper burial while another 7 (a family of six and another teenage girl) are still buried under the debris along with their house. Efforts by locals to retrieve their bodies are slowly progressing at this stage.
Timu villagers who have lost all their houses and food gardens are now taking refuge at their local EBC Church building in the village.
|Locals at Limu village at the disaster site where bodies of an entire family of seven are still buried under the debris.|
Another 12 confirmed deaths have been reported at the Mt Bosavi area I'm the Komo-Magarima district of Hela. Nearby Mananda village also reported 5 confirmed deaths and houses and food gardens destroyed by the disaster.
Health officials are yet to verify uncomfirmed reports of some more deaths in Magarima and Pandoka.
So far Hela province has reported a total of 38 confirmed deaths while Southern Highlands has reported 37 deaths so far. This now brings the death toll to 75 as at this afternoon (Monday).
Affected communities are facing severe food, clothing and fresh water shortages as relief efforts are slowly progressing at this stage. Most of these villages in Hela are situated along the pipelines areas of the oil and gas plants in Southern Highlands and Hela provinces.
|Aerial view of Limu village in Komo-Magarima showing the earthquake damage that killed 11 people.|
Humanitarian relief agencies are also doing their best to get into affected communities which most communities are inaccessible by road or the road links cut off by the disaster.
Oil Search Limited has committed K6million in cash and kind towards the disaster while EXXON Mobil has committed K3million towards relief assistance. Oil Search has already began distributing relief supplies to parts of Southern Highlands while relief supplies were also delivered by the Australian Defence Force Hercules aircraft to Moro in Hela.
The National Disaster Centre in a statement released today says they are still waiting for accurate data to reach them so that they will act accordingly.
However people from the affected communities have plead for the government to fast track relief assistance and also address resettlement issues in due course as they are still in fear following aftershocks in the last 7 days.