Four dead, 17 injured in PNG earthquake

New referral hospital in Enga collapses due to magnitude 7.0 earthquake.

A 7.0-magnitude earthquake which hit East Sepik’s Chambri Lakes at around 4am Monday reportedly killed four people, injured 17 and destroyed more than 300 homes, according to Papua New Guinea police.

Provincial police commander Supt Chris Tamari told The National from Wewak last night that they were unconfirmed figures as authorities continued to collate information on the extent of the damage. 

The earthquake hit an area around 100 kilometres south west of Wewak, with a depth of 80 km. 

National Disaster Centre director Colonel Carl Wrakonei said they were waiting for reports from the provincial disaster coordinators. 

Wrakonei said the earthquake was also felt in West Sepik, Enga, Eastern Highlands, Jiwaka and Southern Highlands. 

A statement from the Mineral Policy and Geohazards Management division said the epicentre was located at Chambri Lakes in Wosera-Gawi. 

On the possibility of a tsunami or a volcanic eruption, an official from the division clarified there were no volcanoes in that area. 

“The disturbances would be due to the amount of rotting vegetation in the lakes. 

“The earthquake has disturbed these and resulted in normal decomposition of gas being released. 

The effects will soon stabilise.” 

Speaking from the Chambri Lakes, Bernard Mandali told The National that as of Monday morning, three houses were damaged at Aibom village but there were no casualties reported. 

Ambunti-Dreikikier MP Johnson Wapunai said the district office was also hit, with seven houses in the Ambunti area destroyed as of 9.30am Monday. 

“In Avatip, three houses collapsed while four houses fell in Yambon and Yawambak was badly hit,” he said. 

“Houses swayed and are standing sideways including the ward member’s houses which fell to the ground. In Malu, two small houses fell.” 

He estimated that almost 30 percent of houses were damaged. 

Meanwhile, Australian foreign Minister Penny Wong said Australia is ready to offer PNG help. 

“Australia’s thoughts are with those affected by the 7.1 magnitude earthquake in Papua New Guinea.  

We stand ready to support PNG as it completes its assessments of the impact of the earthquake, and to assist relief and recovery efforts,” Wong said on twitter.