Seven people have been killed so far in the two earthquakes that have struck Papua New Guinea and while authorities try to reach areas which were affected, a call has been made to the public to only rely on trusted news sources.
On Sunday September 11, a 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck in the Markham Valley, reported by the US Geological Society to be at a depth of 90 kilometres.
A second 5.0 magnitude earthquake was recorded on the same day occurring at 70 kilometres north of the original tremor, at a depth of 101 kilometres underground.
Police commissioner David Manning said the most significant damage reported to date is in districts of Morobe, Eastern Highlands and Madang provinces.
“The tremors caused damage to buildings and public roads in these provinces, and a number of landslides were triggered,” he said.
“Sadly, seven people have been confirmed dead as a result of these landslides. Three in Kabwum District and three in Wau Town, Morobe Province, and one in Rai Coast, Madang Province.”
In 2018, PNG’s Markham Valley was hit by an earthquake similar in size. Aerial reconnaissance is ongoing to identify landslides in remote and rural areas.
“Damage to the Ramu hydropower station infrastructure has resulted in serious system outages across the Highlands, Madang, and Morobe and this is being assessed by engineers at the current time,” Mr Manning said.
“PNG DataCo has reported disruptions to services that have disrupted operations of the Kumul Submarine Cable Network express link between Port Moresby and Madang, and the PPC-1 cable between Madang and Sydney. This is affecting customers in Momase, the Highlands and New Guinea Islands.
“No damage has been reported to aviation infrastructure and regional commercial airports remain operational.”
Mr Manning said PNG had faced many similar potential disasters, and through the lead of the National Disaster and Emergency Services with the support of police, defence and other relevant agencies, plans were in place.
“The National Command Centre will continue to engage with all stakeholders and ensure emergency support is provided where it is needed,” he said.
“I will continue to brief the Prime Minister on current operations, and there will be the ongoing release of public information.
“I urge our people not to be mislead by false information that circulates on social media, and rely on news information that is verified by government agencies.
“We are a strong and resilient people in Papua New Guinea, and our people stand tall when our communities are threatened by potential national disasters.”
The most significant damage is in Kabwum District, where three deaths have been reported and an unknown number of injuries. Medical evacuations have taken place from Kabwum.
Landslides have been identified in Bulolo, Wau and Boana, and damage was sustained by houses, several public roads, highways other infrastructure in these areas.
Damage was also sustained by the Muya Power Plant infrastructure causing supply outages and minor damage was reported in the Lae Metro area to buildings and roads.
Eastern Highlands Province:
There has been damage to public and private infrastructure. This includes cracks appearing in buildings at the University of Goroka male dormitory and other tall structures inside the campus.
There are reports of injuries to students on the campus and they have been admitted to hospital. Further details on these injuries are being collated.
Cracks have been reported on the bridge just after Kainantu towards Yonki, and minor cracks have occurred in the road to Yonki.
Two minor landslips occurred near Kolwara close to the fish market area. Engineers are undertaking assessment on damage to Yonki Dam infrastructure that has resulted in a power outrage in most part of the Eastern Highlands Province.
A major land slide has been noted at Kassam Pass where a 25-seater bus windscreen was damaged. Fortunately passengers escaped unhurt from the vehicle.
The Kainantu Mine reported that there was damage to its underground operations and other site infrastructure.
One death has been reported in the Rai Coast, with medical evacuations taking place from Nankina. There have been reports of building damage at New Town with 13 people injured at Fox Nest House.
The Government Store compound reported that 23 semi-permanent houses were damaged and 22 semi-permanent houses at the Wagol settlement were damaged.
At the DCA Compound, one permanent building and 76 semi-permanent houses were damaged with one report of a person injured.
Damage to the Yonki Hydropower Station is being assessed. The North Coast highway into Madang Town has been affected with reports of damage to buildings, power lines and public roads.
Due to power blackouts, damage reports from Rai Coast, Usino Bundi and other rural stations are still being collated and provided to the National Command Centre.