Earthquake victims need basic necessities
Papua New Guinea: On the early hours of Monday morning, 26th February, a devastating 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck the Southern Highlands and Hela Provinces.
It was reported that this earthquake triggered landslides that wiped out villages, displaced villagers and contaminated the water and that the death toll has risen to a hundred as of this week.
According to the Catholic Diocese of Mendi (Southern Highlands and Hela comprise this diocese), there have been countless aftershocks. In his letter, Bp. Donald Francis Lippert, Bishop of Mendi, stated:
“Sadly, dozens of our people lost their lives, mainly caused by landslides. Four young girls were crushed by a falling wall as they slept in their home in Mendi town”.
“Also in Mendi, a young couple and their first born child were killed by a landslide in the Magani area. They were overnighting there because there was no PMV to take them home that evening. Many more died here and in Hela.”
Recently, Raymond Ton, Director of Caritas PNG visited the areas affected and gave a report. In his report he said:
“The earthquake severely impacted the areas closer to the epicentre of Hela & SHP particularly the areas of Mendi/Munhiu, Nipa/Kutubu, Komo/Margarima, Tari/Pori, and Koroba/Kopiago districts.
Clearly all the infrastructure, including, roads and bridges, electricity power lines, buildings of schools, health care centres, and churches sustained severe damages.
Some have collapsed while others are tilting to one side, others have been dislodged from their original position by nearly a meter. Several structures need assessment by an experienced structural engineer to ascertain its safety.
To date, Lake Kutubu and Lake Kopiago remain only accessible by air as the roads are impassable due to heavy landslips.
The infrastructure of over 30 parishes and 350 sub-stations in the Catholic Diocese established in both provinces has been struck badly. Schools (elementary, community, primary, secondary, technical schools), health centres, parishes houses, pastoral centres, water tanks and church buildings have suffered extensive damage.
“The church will take time to determine the full cost of the damage. It stands by its people in this time great distress. Its priority will be to rebuild the critical infrastructure (parish buildings & Churches), school and health care infrastructure.”
There is reasonable fear of an outbreak of water borne diseases in the foreseeable future. The drinking places (mostly creeks) are experiencing colorization while in other areas the water tanks have been knocked down and split open.
Over 3,000 people are reportedly displaced in the Kutubu area and settled in Pimaga. All schools have been closed indefinitely since the disaster. Many health centres are now without the much-needed drugs causing much apprehension among the health workers.”
Raymond Ton was accompanied by Fr. Zdzislaw Mlak, SVD, of Religion TV who provided graphic images and interviews to NBC Radio and Television.
People in the affected areas are in dire need of the basic necessities - clean water, food and proper shelter. Many people are afraid that this disaster has destroyed gardens, houses, infrastructure and has taken the lives of many of the people in the affected areas.
Bishop Donald Lippert is encouraging the people of Southern Highlands Province to be strong and stand together as on one people during this time suffering and pain.
The Catholic Church and the Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands invites you to donate generously to the reconstruction of the Catholic Church in Mendi.
The account numbers are:
1. Catholic Diocese of Mendi
Account # 1000931783
SWFT Code: BOSPPGPM
BSP BANK, Branch # 088315
2. Caritas PNG
Account # 0717856801
Swift Code: WPACPGPM
WESPAC, Waigani Branch