Three dead after strong earthquake hits remote part of Papua New Guinea

Three Dead After Strong Earthquake Hits Remote Part Of Papua New Guinea Three Dead After Strong Earthquake Hits Remote Part Of Papua New Guinea
Debris in the kitchen of a house in Kainantu, Papua New Guinea, following a strong earthquake
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By Nick Perry, Associated Press

At least three people have died after a powerful earthquake hit a remote part of Papua New Guinea on Sunday morning, authorities said.

Other people were injured and infrastructure was damaged in the magnitude 7.6 quake that was felt across the Pacific country.

The three dead were killed in a landslide in the gold-mining town of Wau, said Morobe provincial disaster director Charley Masange.

Other people were injured by falling structures or debris, and there was damage to some health centres, homes, rural roads and highways, Mr Masange told The Associated Press.

Debris lies strewn across a road following a landslide near the town of Kainantu (Renagi Ravu/AP)

Mr Masange said it could take some time to assess the full extent of the injuries and damage in the region. But he said the sparse and scattered population and lack of large buildings near the epicentre in the nation’s largely undeveloped highlands may have helped prevent a bigger disaster, given the earthquake was so strong.


One resident from the town closest to the epicentre described his ordeal to the AP.

Renagi Ravu was having a meeting with two colleagues at his home in Kainantu when the quake struck.

He tried to stand up from his chair but could not keep his balance and ended up in a kind of group hug with his colleagues, while plates and cups crashed to the ground from shelves, he said. His children, aged nine and two, had their drinks and breakfast spill over.

Mr Ravu, who is a geologist, said he tried to calm everybody as the shaking continued for more than a minute.

Debris lies strewn across the floor in the kitchen of Renagi Ravu’s house in Kainantu, following a 7.6 magnitude earthquake in north-eastern Papua New Guinea (Renagi Ravu/AP)

He said that about 10,000 people live in and around his town, which is 41 miles (66km) from the quake’s epicentre.

He said people were feeling rattled.

“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,” he said. “It was quite intense.”

Mr Ravu was sorting through the damage to his home, which he suspected included a broken sewer pipe judging from the smell.


He said friends elsewhere in Kainantu had messaged him with descriptions of cracked roads, broken pipes and fallen debris, but had not mentioned major building collapses or injuries.

“They are starting to clean up their houses and the streets,” he said. Communication seems to have been affected, he added, with some mobile phone masts likely to have fallen.

The earthquake prompted a landslide near the town of Kainantu in Papua New Guinea (Renagi Ravu/AP)

A magnitude 7.5 earthquake in 2018 in the nation’s central region killed at least 125 people. That quake hit areas that are remote and undeveloped, and assessments about the scale of the damage and injuries were slow to filter out.

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

According to the US Geological Survey, the quake hit at 9.46am local time at a depth of 56 miles (90km). The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration advised there was no tsunami threat for the region.

Papua New Guinea is located on the eastern half of the island of New Guinea, to the east of Indonesia and north 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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