Death Toll Climbs as Aftershocks Rattle Earthquake-Hit Papua New Guinea


While earthquakes are a common occurrence in Papua New Guinea, which is located in the Pacific Ring of Fire where most of the world's quake activity occurs, the latest tremors have been particularly catastrophic.

Strong aftershocks continue to rattle Papua New Guinea one week after a 7.5 magnitude quake left dozens of people dead.

Compounding the fallout was an announcement on Monday that the impoverished country's biggest development - the liquefied natural gas project operated by U.S. energy giant ExxonMobil - would be offline for up to eight weeks as the quake-hit facilities are repaired.

"Around 143,000 people are affected and 17,000 people have been generally displaced because their homes are either fully or partially damaged and not in a condition to lie in", said Regmi. The damaged roads also made delivery of food, water and sanitation to local communities more hard.

No official government death toll has been released.

Regmi explained that water and sanitation were major concerns for local communities.

ASX-listed energy explorers and producers Oil Search and Santos between them own 42.5 per cent of the ExxonMobil-led PNG LNG Project.

Australia, New Zealand and the Red Cross have all pledged aid, though reaching the remote area has proven challenging as forbidding terrain, bad weather, as well as damaged roads and runways have delayed aid efforts.

Several provinces in the highlands of Papua New Guinea felt strong aftershocks.

"Many communities are without basic necessities, such as food, clean water, shelter and medical support".

"In response to the prime minister's immediate state of emergency, we have committed to deploying our expertise and resources to aid recovery efforts in the wake of this natural disaster", said Andrew Barry, managing director of ExxonMobil PNG.