Death Toll Climbs as Aftershocks Rattle Earthquake-Hit Papua New Guinea

Rescuers try to find the bodies of Jack Mawe and his family after the Papua New Guinea earthquake this week. Image This Land My Country blog

Anna Bryan, program director for CARE International in PNG, said the impact of the natural disaster could not be understood by the initial death toll of 31 people as tens of thousands of people uninjured by the actual quake have been cut off from food, drinking water, communications and medical help for a week.

The death toll from a 7.5-magnitude quake that hit Papua New Guinea's remote highlands last week has risen to 67, the Red Cross said, as massive aftershocks continued to rattle the region.

"We haven't slept. It's been shaking all through the night", William Bando, provincial administrator of Hela province, said by telephone from Tari, about 40 km from the site of the shocks.

"What we experienced this morning could have caused more damage, but we don't know.it nearly threw me out of bed".

The toll on Monday stood at 55 killed, said James Justin, a research officer at the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy in Port Moresby, as news of more deaths arrived in the capital by shortwave radio.

Aid workers told the Guardian that the extent of the damage is still unknown due to the remoteness of the villages bearing the brunt of the quake. "They actually want to know when it will stop".

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The region is largely rural with no major urban centers, but around 670,000 people live within 100 km (62 miles) of the quake's epicenter, according to the Red Cross.

SINGAPORE, March 5 (Reuters) - A liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanker bound for Papua New Guinea from Taiwan has diverted to Singapore, following a powerful quake a week ago that has halted LNG supply from the country, data from Thomson Reuters Eikon showed.

Numerous aftershocks have also hampered the delivery of vital relief supplies to isolated communities.

Australian and New Zealand defense forces have begun delivering aid and the China Red Cross and Beijing have pledged financial assistance.

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill has declared a state of emergency.

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