7.6 Earthquake Hits Part of Papua New Guinea, Killing 3

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — At least three people are dead after a powerful earthquake hit a remote part of Papua New Guinea Sunday morning, authorities say. In addition to being injured, infrastructure was also damaged during the earthquake that struck the Pacific island.

Charley Masange, Morobe Provincial Disaster Director, stated that the three victims died from a landslide at Wau in gold-mining. Masange stated that some other victims were injured by fallen structures and debris. There was also damage to several health centers, homes and rural roads.

Masange acknowledged that it might take some time for the entire extent of the damage and injuries sustained in the earthquake-stricken region to be assessed. But he said the sparse and scattered population and lack of large buildings near the epicenter in the nation’s largely undeveloped highlands may have helped prevent a bigger disaster, given the earthquake was so strong.

An individual from the nearest epicenter town described the ordeal to The Associated Press.

Renagi Ravu was at home with his two coworkers in Kainantu as the earthquake hit.

Ravu tried to stand up from his chair but couldn’t maintain his balance and ended up in a kind of group hug with his colleagues, while plates and cups crashed from his shelves to the ground, he said. Ravu’s children (ages 9 and 2) had their breakfast and drinks spilled over.

Ravu who is a geologist stated that he tried calm everyone while the shaking continued for longer than one minute.

Ravu said that about 10,000 people live in and around his town, which is located 66 kilometers (41 miles) from the quake’s epicenter.

He claimed that many people feel agitated.

“It’s a common thing that earthquakes are felt here, but it usually doesn’t last as long and is not as violent as this one,” Ravu said. “It was quite intense.”

Ravu was assessing the extent of the damage done to his house. He believed that there had been a sewer leak, judging by the smell. He said friends elsewhere in Kainantu had messaged him with descriptions of cracked roads, broken pipes and fallen debris, but hadn’t described major building collapses or injuries.

“They are starting to clean up their houses and the streets,” he said. He said that communication seems to be affected with several cell towers possibly having fallen.

A magnitude 7.5 earthquake in 2018 in the nation’s central region killed at least 125 people. This earthquake struck remote, undeveloped areas. Unfortunately, it took a long time to get information about injuries and damage.

Felix Taranu, a seismologist at the Geophysical Observatory in the capital Port Moresby, said it was too early to know the full impacts of Sunday’s earthquake, although its strength meant it “most likely caused considerable damage.”

The U.S. Geological Survey stated that the earthquake struck at 9:46 AM local time and was at 90 km (56 miles) depth. NOAA reported that the tsunami was not a concern for this region.

Papua New Guinea can be found on the eastern side of New Guinea’s island, just east of Indonesia and north-east of Eastern Australia. It sits on the Pacific’s “Ring of Fire,” the arc of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean where much of the world’s earthquakes and volcanic activity occurs.

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