Strong Aftershocks Hit Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea 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.

ExxonMobil Corp. said on Monday it would take about eight weeks to restore production at the Papua New Guinea liquefied natural gas project (LNG), following a powerful quake that hit the country's energy-rich interior a week ago.

Three magnitude five aftershocks hit the nation's Southern Highlands region on Monday. "Big trucks can not go there".

Apart from the death toll, around 1.43 lakh people have been affected by the quake and 17,000 people have been displaced due to partial or full destruction of their homes, reported AFP quoting Red Cross figures.

"About 143,000 people are affected and 17,000 people have been generally displaced because their homes are either fully or partially damaged and in no condition to live in".

Aid workers say almost 150,000 people are in urgent need of emergency supplies with many of them displaced as their homes are either destroyed or badly damaged.

Santos is providing $200,000, ExxonMobil $US1 million ($1.3 million) and Oil Search $US5 million.

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

"The challenge is road access, it's still not accessible to trucks and four-wheel-drives", Mr Regmi said.

In response to the disaster, both Australia and New Zealand along with the Red Cross pledged aid to some 150,000 people in the affected areas.

Prime Minister Peter O'Neill last week termed the shutdown of the gas plant as having a "huge impact" on the economy, which is heavily dependent on its natural resources.

ExxonMobil PNG managing director Andrew Barry said production at the US$19 billion project would be restored as quickly as possible, adding that it was an "unprecedented event for the country" and the firm.

  • Joey Payne