Natural disaster death toll at 55 as strong aftershock hits Papua New Guinea

Quake relief for PNG

Quake relief for PNG

Local media outlets reported the death toll from the original quake had risen to 75, after government officials said previously that 55 people had been killed.

A resident receives medical treatment after an quake in Papua New Guinea in this handout image released March 7, 2018.

(File pix) A handout photo taken on March 6, 2018 and received on March 7 from the International Federation of Red Cross shows quake damage in the Nipa-Kutuba district of the Southern Highlands in Papua New Guinea.

Blocked roads, cracked airplane lanes and disrupted communication make it hard for the authorities to identify the number of victims and deliver aid to at least 150,000 people in distress.

In neighbouring Southern Highlands, five people were killed.

"We are now in the process of delivering emergency supplies", he said late Tuesday.

Australia and New Zealand are increasing aid to Papua New Guinea following the latest aftershock - deploying medical equipment, hygiene kits and tarpaulins using helicopters and military planes.

The devastating quake on February 26 destroyed buildings, flattened several villages, caused massive landslides, severed communications and damaged many roads.

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"Compounding the fallout was an announcement on Monday that the impoverished country's biggest-ever development €" the PNG LNG project operated by USA energy giant ExxonMobil €" will be offline for up to eight weeks as the quake-hit facilities undergo repairs.

"We have been working closely with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and we remain ready to provide further assistance if required".

The rainy season is also a concern as the International Red Cross warned the situation could worsen further if heavy downpours hit. Ten aftershocks in the hours since ranged between magnitude 4.7 and 5.2.

"The effects of the continual tremors are both physical and psychological", said Marape, speaking from Tari, adding that at least 11 people had died in landslides in the area. "People's livelihoods are devastated, their personal property is gone".

The girl's mother and two sisters also vanished in the torrent of mud in Puinj village.

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The toll on Monday stood at 55 killed, said James Justin, a research officer at the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy in Port Moresby, as news of more deaths arrived in the capital by shortwave radio.

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