A powerful M6.3 earthquake has struck the remote highlands of Papua New Guinea on April 7, 2018, damaging buildings and injuring a number of people just six weeks after a major tremor devastated the region. The quake struck the highlands on Saturday at a depth of 10 kilometres — much shallower than the February 26 quake. Therefore, damage from the new earthquake could be extensive.
“It was a bad as the last earthquake, very bad,” said the deputy administrator of Hela Province, Pius Pape. “It caused further damage to houses, landslides a lot of damage to infrastructure. I’m expecting there’s going to be a lot of damage,” Mr Pape said.
Mr Pape said he had been told the airstrip in the provincial capital, Tari, had been damaged again, which could hinder relief efforts.
The provincial hospital has treated a number of minor injuries and there were reports of deaths from some areas, but none have been confirmed.
This is the second powerful earthquake to hit the region in the last few months. The magnitude-7.5 quake on February 26 killed 125 people and displaced an estimated 35,000.
Relief efforts in Hela Province have been hampered by recent tribal fighting, in which at least eight people have been killed.
Local authorities said they had not been able to contact the outlying districts worst-affected by the previous quake, but they feared the new quake had eroded what little progress had been made in providing aid and repairing infrastructure.
Earthquakes are common in Papua New Guinea, which sits on the Pacific’s “Ring of Fire”, a hotspot for seismic activity due to friction between tectonic plates.