PNG assesses damage after powerful earthquake

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

Disaster relief workers in Papua New Guinea were assessing the extent of damage in a remote region Monday following a powerful magnitude 7.0 earthquake.

Some buildings and homes were destroyed near the quake’s epicenter in the northern part of the Pacific nation, said Mathew Moihoi, the acting assistant director of the Port Moresby Geophysical Observatory. He said disaster relief workers were trying to verify whether there were any deaths or serious injuries.

He said the region is marked by swamps and people tend to live subsistence lives hunting and fishing. He said that because of the region’s remoteness and patchy communications, it could take several days to figure out the extent of the damage.

Moihoi said the quake was big enough to be felt in surrounding regions, including in the nation’s highlands.

The quake struck just after 4 am at Chambri Lake and the epicentre was relatively deep at 62 kilometers (38 miles), according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Deeper earthquakes tend to create less damage on the surface than those that are shallow.

Papua New Guinea is located on the eastern half of the island of New Guinea, to the east of Indonesia and north of Australia. It sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” the arc of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean where much of the world’s earthquake and volcanic activity occurs. A magnitude 7.6 quake that struck a remote area of Papua New Guinea in September was later found to have killed 21 people.

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