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Several dead, 1,000 homes destroyed in Papua New Guinea earthquake | Earthquakes News

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Quake struck as remote western region already dealing with floods from earlier this month.

Several people have died and some 1,000 homes have been destroyed in a 6.9 magnitude earthquake that hit a remote part of western Papua New Guinea, according to officials.

The quake rocked the East Sepik region at about 6:20am on Sunday (20:20 GMT on Saturday) near the town of Ambunti, about 756km (470 miles) northwest of the capital, Port Moresby.

East Sepik Governor Allan Bird wrote on Facebook that the tremor had “damaged most parts of the province”.

“Sadly we have several casualties already,” he said, adding that authorities were “still assessing the impact” but about 1,000 homes had so far been “lost”.

Early reports put the death toll to at least three, while provincial police commander Christopher Tamari told the AFP news agency on Monday that at least five deaths had been recorded and warned the number could be higher as rescue efforts continued.

Dozens of villages located on the banks of the country’s Sepik River were already battling widespread flooding from earlier in March when the quake struck.

Photos showed damaged wooden houses with thatched roofs collapsing into the surrounding knee-high floodwaters, while an ageing bridge in the provincial capital of Wewak buckled under the strain.

“The flooding actually covers an area more than 800km (497 miles) long, and so there’s about maybe 60 or 70 villages involved all along the Sepik River,” Bird told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Monday.

“The floods weren’t their biggest problem. They were confidently dealing with that because it’s something they’re used to,” Bird said. “It was the earthquake that no one was prepared for. That would have caused the most significant damage now.”

Bird said there was a pressing need to get medical supplies, clean drinking water and temporary shelter into the disaster zone.

Earthquakes are common in Papua New Guinea, which sits on top of the seismic “Ring of Fire” – an arc of intense tectonic activity that stretches through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific basin.

Papua New Guinea, a South Pacific island nation located to the north of Australia, was hit with two earthquakes in April last year, including a magnitude 7.0 quake that killed four people in a remote northern part of the country.

The country was hit with two earthquakes in April last year, including a magnitude 7.0 quake that killed four people in a remote northern part of the country.

A magnitude 7.6 quake that struck a remote area of the island in September 2022 was later found to have killed 21 people.

In recent months, the island has also been hit by civil unrest with riots killing 15 in January. Dozens were also killed in violence in the northern highlands last month.

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