Three dead, 93 houses collapsed after 7.0 magnitude earthquake strikes East Sepik

East Sepik province in Papua New Guinea, which has been struggling with heavy flooding for the past weeks, was hit by a huge earthquake Sunday morning, doubling the pain for the Sepik River and wetland people.

The 7.0 magnitude quake, epicentered around the Middle Sepik, sent homes crashing into the flooded rivers, killing a mother and her child in Jikinumbu village and 1 child in Sotmeri village.

A geologist Mark Keno from Sotmeri reported that: “Sotmeri village is under water. It was struck by heavy flooding last week and a 7.0 magnitude earthquake between 5 and 6 am today (Sunday).

Twenty-six houses, nearly the whole village collapsed due to floods. A little boy lost his life.” In Korogu, the neighbouring village, 36 houses were destroyed. In Jikinumbu village alone in Timboli, 11 houses collapsed with two deaths – a mother and her seven-year-old daughter. Other children were rushed to the nearby health centre for treatment.

Keno said Sotmeri, is a few villages away from the epicentre. *26 houses collapsed in Sotmeri village; * 36 houses collapsed in Korogu village; * 11 houses collapsed at Timboli Jikinumbu; * 1 death from Sotmeri – a boy; *2 deaths from Jikinumbu – mother and daughter died while two siblings were injured; * More than 100 people have been left homeless from these three villages; and *Many other villages have been affected by the earthquake. Those who lost their houses have nowhere and are being accommodated by relatives.

Reports reaching the Post Courier yesterday afternoon confirmed that 11 houses at Jikinumbu village that were submerged by high tide from the Sepik River last week collapsed and another 26 houses at Sotmeri village.

Marienburg Local Level Government President Max Okm, who is in Wewak with other LLG presidents to receive disaster relief funding for the flood confirmed the damages, deaths, and related causalities.

“Yes, it is confirmed, 26 houses in Sotmeri village, 11 houses from Timboli village collapsed and two died,” Mr Okm reported.

In Maprik District, the brick walls of two classrooms of a junior high school came crashing to the ground during the earthquake, according to teaching staff Jethro Sakupati.

He said many houses in Maprik villages collapsed as well.

Currently, reports of collapsed houses, bridges, and facilities in ESP are circulating on Facebook.

Wewak Open Member Stanley Samban confirmed with the Post Courier that the damages happened in the entire province.

He said the bridge connecting Moem Barracks and Wewak town collapsed cutting off the PNGDF soldiers from accessing the town.

“It is confirmed two oxygen cylinders from the surgical ward of Boram General Hospital exploded during the earthquake. I’m waiting for LLG presidents and ward members to arrive tomorrow with their reports.”

Provincial Administrator Samson Torovi said the provincial authority would release an official statement today after gathering all the reports.

Meanwhile, Provincial Member Allan Bird is working with local level government presidents to allocate funds for the damages done by the high tide in Sepik River.