Nearly 150,000 people are in need of emergency supplies, after a deadly earthquake that struck the rocky highlands of Papua New Guinea. According to agencies, the quake has left the Oceanian country with damaged roads, thus hampering the supply of aid to the communities that have been left in isolation for a week.
According to Udaya Regmi, the director of the International Red Cross in PNG, around 147,000 have been deprived of basic necessities and are in serious need of water, food and sanitation supplies. He also said that close to 7000 people had their homes either damaged or destroyed by the quake.
He highlighted the current problem of not being able to supply aid in areas where it was most needed. Due to landslides, road access was not possible on trucks or four-wheel drives and it was one of the reasons food was scarce for the people in some areas, he added. Starvation wasn’t a threat at this moment, but it could soon be, according to him.
As the earthquakes hit more than a week ago, the regions were declared to be in a state of emergency by the government of Papua New Guinea (PNG). Relief authorities and workers are yet to complete their assessment of the areas affected, thus do not yet know the scale of the disaster.
However, two days after the Southern Highlands were hit by the earthquake on February 26, which was of 7.5 magnitude, World Food Program compiled a report for the United Nations. In the report, it was estimated that 465,000 had been affected by the disaster. Of those nearly half-a-million exposed, urgent help was required by 143,000 and emergency supplies were needed for 64,000, who would soon be without food.
Tens of thousands of people had been deprived of drinking water or food and had no way to communicate because of the quake, according to Anna Bryan. She’s the program director of CARE International in PNG, and she emphasized that the impact of the calamity stretched far beyond the initially reported death toll of 31 people, as a lot of uninjured had no medical supplies. There was also a threat of disease, as landslides has created blocked rivers and could cause bacteria and silt in the stagnant water. She believed it was concerning for the health and hygiene of the public.
It is not yet confirmed if all the people in need have been provided the aid that has been flown in through aircrafts. Multiple sources have also claimed that villagers remained terrified for five days after the initial quake, as aftershocks continued throughout the highlands and only stopped on Saturday.
This is backed by Julie Sakol, a nurse at Mendi General Hospital, who said on Sunday that the aftershocks were decreasing and that movement had considerably lessened. She said that the tremors now occurred in intervals of two hours.
The PNG government has been able to gather aid with help from the Red Cross and Care International, as well as the Australian government.