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People buried in rubble after Papua New Guinea earthquake

Staff Writer | February 27, 2018
Provincial authorities say more than 30 people are believed to have been killed and whole villages buried by landslides in Papua New Guinea's Southern Highlands after a 7.5-magnitude earthquake.
Papua New Guinea earthquake
Earthquake   At least 13 people were killed
The Post Courier newspaper reported Hela Provincial Administrator William Bando saying at least 13 people were killed in the capital of neighbouring Southern Highlands province, Mendi, Radio NU reports.

Eighteen others were believed to have been killed elsewhere in Southern Highlands, however telecommunication links in the area have been significantly disrupted by the quake, frustrating attempts to collect information about the impact.

However, the acting disaster co-ordinator for Heal province, Barclay Tens, said 11 people died in Mendi which is about 100 kilometres away from the epicentre of the quake in Hela province.

Authorities also said more than 300 people were injured and many and properties were destroyed during the quake, and that the had been in contact with the region by satellite phone as other lines were down.

A police spokesman said there were also reports of entire hillsides coming down and whole villages being buried by landslides.

Tens told RNZ Pacific from Mendi that rescuers were trying to reach four people buried in a landslide.

He said power and telecommunications were still out in most of the affected areas and the main roads into the region were cut off by landslips.

The quake also damaged mining and power infrastructure and led ExxonMobil Corp to shut its $19 billion liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant, the country’s biggest export earner.

Australian resources company Oil Search said its operations in the area were being shut down as a precaution and for damage assessment, and there were no injuries reported among its staff so far.