By Nick Perry
An earthquake in a remote region of Papua New Guinea killed four people and destroyed more than 300 homes, local media reported, as disaster relief officials worked to further assess damage Tuesday.
The magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck in a remote region early Monday, causing deep fissures in the land near the epicentre at Chambri Lake in the northern part of the Pacific nation.
The region is marked by swamps and people tend to live subsistence lives hunting and fishing, Mathew Moihoi, the acting assistant director of the Port Moresby Geophysical Observatory, told The Associated Press. Because of the region’s remoteness and patchy communications, it could take several days to figure out the extent of the damage, he said.
Citing local officials, the Papua New Guinea Post-Courier newspaper reported four people had died and at least 17 more people were injured after the quake caused damage in 23 villages around the epicentre.
Moihoi said he’d heard reports of the four deaths although his agency had yet to verify that figure.
He said the quake was big enough to be felt in surrounding regions, including in the nation’s highlands.
The quake struck just after 4 a.m. about 62 kilometres below the Earth’s surface, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Papua New Guinea is on the eastern half of the island of New Guinea, to the east of Indonesia and north of Australia. It sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” the arc of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean where much of the world’s earthquake and volcanic activity occurs.
A magnitude 7.6 quake that struck a remote area of Papua New Guinea in September was later found to have killed 21 people.
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