67 killed in PNG quake

67 killed in PNG quake

The 7.5 magnitude natural disaster that hit Papua New Guinea on February 26 continues to devastate the Pacific nation, with the total death toll of the quake and its aftershocks reaching 67 on Monday.

Earthquakes are common in Papua New Guinea, which sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, a hotspot for seismic activity.

A report by the World Food Program for the United Nations two days after the 7.5 magnitude quake hit the Southern Highlands on February 26 estimated 465,000 people were exposed to the disaster of which 143,000 needed urgent humanitarian assistance and 64,000 were suffering from extreme food insecurity.

Terrified locals in the Southern Highlands, Western, Enga and Hela provinces have also been hit by strong aftershocks, including two 6.0-magnitude tremors early Monday.

Aid workers say almost 150,000 people are in urgent need of emergency supplies with many of them displaced as their homes are either destroyed or badly damaged.

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"The challenge is road access - they are still not accessible to trucks and four-wheel drives", Udaya Regmi said. Regmi estimated that at least 500 people are injured and 127,000 are in need of immediate assistance. It's one of the reasons there is a shortage of food.

Bryan said rivers dammed by landslides created stagnant water polluted by silt and bacteria, leaving people with the threat of disease.

Professor Petley said there was an urgent need to assess the risk of collapse and determine how many people lived downstream.

In response to the disaster, both Australia and New Zealand along with the Red Cross pledged aid to some 150,000 people in the affected areas.

"The impact on local communities within our operational areas has been enormous, with many deaths in the region as well as the destruction of houses, schools, roads and bridges", Mr Botten said.