Nepal | June 02, 2020

Week after Papua New Guinea quake, nearly 150,000 people in urgent need of aid

REUTERS
Share Now:

SYDNEY: Almost a week after a deadly quake struck the rugged Papua New Guinea highlands, nearly 150,000 people remain in urgent need of emergency supplies as damaged roads and landslides have hampered the delivery of aid to isolated communities, agencies have said.

The quake destroyed or damaged the homes of around 7000 people, while 147,000 were in severe need of food, water and sanitation, the director of the International Red Cross in PNG, Udaya Regmi, told Reuters on Sunday.

Landslides have cut roads, preventing the delivery of aid to several places where it’s most needed.

“The challenge is road access, it’s still not accessible to trucks and four-wheel drives,” Regmi said.

“Big trucks cannot go there. It’s one of the reasons the food is becoming less and less. There are no fears of starvation yet but we’ve not got the full picture.”

Papua New Guinea (PNG) declared a state of emergency across the earthquake-hit region last week but the scale of the disaster will not be known until relief workers and authorities can complete their assessments in the area.

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.

Anna Bryan, program director for CARE International in PNG, said the impact of the earthquake could not be understood by the initial death toll of 31 people as tens of thousands of people uninjured by the actual quake have been cut off from food, drinking water, communications and medical help for a week.

“Public health and public hygiene are now concerns,” she said.

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

Aid has been flown in by aircraft but it is not yet known if it has been able to get to all the people in need.

Aftershocks terrified villagers for five days after the initial temblor and only started subsiding on Saturday, multiple sources said.

Julie Sakol a nurse at Mendi General Hospital said on Sunday the aftershocks were slowly decreasing.

“It’s coming every two hours now … the movement of the ground is slowly going down.”

Australian Sally Lloyd who is visiting PNG said villagers were terrified by the constant shaking.

“It is terror,” she said by telephone from Mount Hagen on Sunday.“They think the end of the world is happening.”

Earthquakes are common in Papua New Guinea, which sits on the Pacific Ocean’s“Ring of Fire,” a hotspot for seismic activity due to friction between tectonic plates.

The PNG and Australian governments, the Red Cross and Care International have all provided aid.

Energy firm ExxonMobil which had to declare force majeure on exports from its PNG LNG project in the wake of the earthquake has also donated US$1 million to the humanitarian effort.

Oil company Santos said on Sunday that it will donate US$200,000 to aid agencies in PNG for disaster relief on top of a US$1 million donation it has already provided to Hela Provincial Hospital.

 


Follow The Himalayan Times on Twitter and Facebook

Recommended Stories:

More from The Himalayan Times:

People opting to sanitise homes, office spaces as COVID-19 infections keep rising everyday 

Kathmandu Handsanitisers, gloves and masks were our first shield of protection against the spread of coronavirus. And now people have started sanitising their homes and offices as a precautionary measure as infections keep increasing nationwide.   Muna Thapa had never sanitised her Read More...

Dengue

Dengue, scrub typhus infection on the rise in Gandaki Province

POKHARA: Amid the spread of coronavirus contagion across several parts of the nation, dengue and scrub typhus cases too have become a worry some health issues with their steady rise in Gandaki province of late. According to the Health Directorate of the province, 16 persons have been infected wit Read More...

Dailekh reels under scarcity of tests as people return to district in thousands

KATHMANDU: As thousands of people are returning home to Dailekh from India, the district faces a shortage of PCR tests, increasing the risk of widespread transmission of Covid-19 among the locals. Returnees from India, who are placed in various quarantine facilities in Dailekh district, are at a Read More...

25 people discharged from Bhim Hospital in Bhairahawa

BUTWAL: Twenty-five people were sent home from Bhim hospital in Bhairahawa after recovering from Covid-19, on Monday. Among those discharged are 22 men and three women, including a 4-year-old and a 10-year-old girl. Of the 25, 10 are from Gaidahawa Rural Municipality -- including three women f Read More...

Three more COVID-19 positive cases identified in Nawalpur

NAWALPUR: As many as three new cases of coronavirus infection have been reported in Nawalpur district today. Of the newly infected, two persons aged 22 and 36 are from Kawasoti-1 and 12 respectively, while the third person, aged 14, is from Binayi Tribeni Rural Municipality-3. They had recently r Read More...

India climbs to 7th biggest outbreak in world

NEW DELHI: India has registered 230 deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing its total to 5,394 as the country begins its three-stage reopening on Monday. The lockdown is being eased in most places except for the containment zones now isolated due to coronavirus outbreaks. The Health Ministry sai Read More...

Two construction workers swept away by flood in Kailali

DHANGADHI: Two persons were swept away by the flooded river caused by the incessant rainfall, in Chure Rural Municipality-1 of Kailali district, on Sunday night. Police have identified the deceased as Kamal Thapa (45) and Gopal BK (24) both of Krishnapur Municipality-4 in Kanchanpur district, inf Read More...

UN forced to cut aid to Yemen, even as virus increases need

CAIRO: Aid organizations are making an urgent plea for funding to shore up their operations in war-torn Yemen, saying they have already been forced to stop some of their work even as the coronavirus rips through the country. Some 75% of UN programs in Yemen have had to shut their doors or reduce Read More...