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Devastating Earthquake Hits Papua New Guinea, Leaving Death and Destruction



A catastrophic earthquake with a magnitude of 6.9 has struck a remote region in Papua New Guinea, resulting in a tragic loss of life and widespread devastation. The seismic event, centered near the town of Ambunti in the East Sepik region, happened at dawn on Sunday, rattling an area approximately 756km northwest of the country’s capital, Port Moresby.

East Sepik Governor, Allan Bird, took to social media to express the extent of the damage caused by the tremor, highlighting that numerous parts of the province had been severely impacted. Initial assessments indicate that around 1,000 homes have been destroyed, leaving many families homeless and in urgent need of assistance.

Provincial police commander, Christopher Tamari, confirmed the grim toll, reporting at least five fatalities linked to the earthquake. Tamari cautioned that rescue operations were ongoing and the death count might rise as more affected areas are reached and assessed.

Rescue efforts are further complicated by the fact that the quake hit an already flood-stricken area along the Sepik River, where numerous villages were battling rising waters. Images captured in the aftermath depict traditional wooden houses collapsing into the flooded terrain, exacerbating the challenges faced by residents.

The confluence of the earthquake and the pre-existing floods has created a humanitarian crisis in the region, with essential services disrupted and communities struggling to cope. The provincial capital of Wewak witnessed infrastructure damage, including an aging bridge succumbing to the dual force of the quake and flooding.

The disaster necessitates immediate aid in the form of medical supplies, clean water, and temporary shelters to support the affected population. Governor Bird emphasized the critical need for swift assistance to address the mounting humanitarian needs in the wake of the catastrophe.

Papua New Guinea’s location atop the seismic “Ring of Fire” makes it prone to such natural disasters, given the intense tectonic activity in the region that extends from Southeast Asia through the Pacific. The island nation has a history of earthquakes, with previous events causing loss of life and extensive damage to communities.

International media outlets, including Al Jazeera and the AFP, have been covering the aftermath of the earthquake, shedding light on the challenges faced by Papua New Guinea as it grapples with yet another natural disaster in a region already reeling from multiple crises.

Rachel Adams

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