A 6.9 magnitude quake in remote Papua New Guinea kills 3 and destroys nearly 1,000 homes

Deadly quake devastates remote Papua New Guinea, leaving 3 dead and 1,000 homes destroyed
A 6.9 magnitude quake in remote Papua New Guinea
A 6.9 magnitude quake in remote Papua New Guinea

Port Moresby | A magnitude 6.9 earthquake has hit a remote part of western Papua New Guinea killing at least three people and causing extensive damage to around 1,000 homes, officials said.

The quake rocked the East Sepik region at about 6.20 am Sunday (2020 GMT Saturday) near the town of Ambunti, about 470 miles (756 kilometres) northwest of the capital of Port Moresby, and at a depth of 25 miles (about 40 kilometres), according to reports by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

East Sepik province Governor Allan Bird posted on Facebook Sunday that initial estimates show the earthquake had destroyed about 1,000 homes in the area which was already “dealing with widespread flooding” from earlier in March.

“The flooding actually covers an area more than 800 kilometres long, and so there's about maybe 60 or 70 villages involved all along the Sepik River,” Bird told the ABC on Monday.

Local emergency crews were already active in the region because of the flooding when the earthquake struck.

“The floods weren't their biggest problem. They were confidently dealing with that because it's something they're used to,” Bird said. “It was the earthquake that no one was prepared for. That would have caused the most significant damage now.” Bird said shelter, clean water, food and canvases to keep belongings dry were the most immediate pressing needs for the village communities.

Papua New Guinea, a South Pacific island nation located to the north of Australia, was hit with two earthquakes in April last year, including a magnitude 7.0 quake that killed four people in a remote northern part of the country.

A magnitude 7.6 quake that struck a remote area of the island in September 2022 was later found to have killed 21 people.

It is located on the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” the arc of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean where much of the world's earthquake and volcanic activity occurs.

In recent months, the island has also been beset by civil unrest with rioting in its two largest cities in January leaving 15 dead, before tribal violence killed at least 26 combatants and an unconfirmed number of bystanders last month.

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