A double earthquake hit Madang last night, causing damage to lives and properties at a cost that would be confirmed this week.
The epicentre was around the Bibi area near Saidor government station in Rai Coast district.
The Post Courier reports that according to information from the Department of Mineral Policy and Geohazards Management, the earthquake occurred as a result of the subduction collision of the South Bismarck Sea Plate and the Solomon Sea Plate, beneath the Finsterer range in Madang Province.
The earthquake was felt in Madang, Mt Hagen, Chimbu and Morobe provinces.
Another major aftershock occurred at 6.40 pm local time within the vicinity.
This significant event (M6.9 earthquake) occurred at a depth of 71 km, followed by another moderate earthquake (M5.4) which occurred at 7.18 pm at a depth of 114 km.
The report said due to shallow depth (100 km) of the earthquakes, there is a chance of some damage occurring in the epicentral region.
The DMPGM said there were possibilities that the aftershocks could likely continue for some time and communities within the earthquake epicentral area need to take precautionary measures.
Meanwhile, the earthquake struck unexpectedly as household items started rattling with severe shaking of buildings.
The land spots where people stood shook as if it were going to open up and suck everything around them.
Some old buildings, including family homes cracked and tilted to one side while some collapsed. Power went off.
More destruction occurred, store goods shelved from all shops in town fell, computers in offices and TV screens at homes fell, some families fell with their houses.
More than 200 houses from the settlements in town collapsed, old buildings in the central business centre and residential areas cracked and tilted.
The town’s PNG Port service main wharf cracked, PNG Power pylons fells and significant damages were done to Meiro Power station that resulted in the power disruption in the first quake.
The airport runway also cracked in certain spots including the new Tapo Bridge.
Town’s major fuel distributor Rooks Marine’s driveway cracked.
Airport facilities affected
The aftermath of a severe 6.7 magnitude earthquake which occurred around Madang in Papua New Guinea area has affected aerodrome facilities on the airside.
Transport and Civil Aviation Minister Walter Schnaubelt confirmed this through a report from the National Airports Corporation (NAC) staff in Madang.
“Straight after the earthquake Senior Safety Officer (SASO) went into the airside and did an inspection of the runway, taxiways, apron and along the previously damaged fence line near the sea beyond runway 25 threshold.
“Upon inspections on the runway, the SASO identified many long cracks along the runway.
“These cracks occurred as a direct result of the earthquake. There were long cracks identified about 70m from the Runway 07 Threshold (Meiro River end).
The location of the cracks is between 70m and 170m from the runway threshold
“The fence line beyond runway 25 threshold (below the approach) was also damaged.
This section of the fence line was damaged during the last major earthquake and Monday evening, further damage was caused to the fence.
“The runway pavement developed cracks along a 170m section and also the perimeter fence line below the approach of runway 25 was damaged.
“Engineers will need to travel to Madang and do a thorough assessment on the runway before a full report will be compiled and the extent of the damage.
“A NOTAM will soon be issued to displace the runway by 170m. This will result in downgrade of the aircraft. Dash 8 – 300 series can operate. Q400 can also operate but on restricted payload.
“There will be an urgent pavement repair work to be carried out on the runway and along the fence line.”
Damage assessment, repair work underway in PNG following 6.7-magnitude quakes
Authorities have been conducting damage assessment and repair work in Papua New Guinea (PNG) after two strong 6.7-magnitude earthquakes jolted the northeastern coast of the Pacific island country during the weekend.
The National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) of PNG confirmed on Monday that the National Disaster Office is leading a team of government officials to carry out a comprehensive assessment of the damage caused by the earthquakes and the number of affected people.
On Monday, PNG Prime Minister James Marape issued a statement expressing his sympathy and support for the people of Madang and other impacted areas, saying that immediate actions have been taken in response to the tragic disaster.
“Rai Coast Member of Parliament (MP) and Labor and Employment Minister Hon. Kessy Sawang, together with the Madang Provincial Government, have taken swift and decisive action to assess the situation on the ground,” said the prime minister.
“A dedicated team comprising officials from relevant government departments and agencies, under the leadership of the National Disaster Office, has been tasked with conducting a comprehensive assessment of the damage and the number of affected individuals,” he added.
As MP for Rai Coast, Sawang revealed on her social media that the Basamuk Refinery sustained severe impacts of the earthquakes and ceased production.
“Fortunately, all employees at BSK (Basamuk) are safe, and no environmental spill has been reported so far,” she noted.