MAF is continuing to respond with flights to effected areas in the aftermath of the 7.6 magnitude earthquake that struck Papua New Guinea’s Hela province on the 26th February.
30 people are thought to have died with more than 200 homes destroyed in the worst affected areas. In Fugwa, a village close to the epicentre, half the homes are gone. The school and health centre have sustained significant damage and the community are without access to clean water at this time.
MAF has responded to requests for medevac flights including a flight on 1 March that carried four patients to Mount Hagen for treatment. The flight was carried out by Pilot Steven Eatwell and was assisted by Nawi Mabo.
'The people were so grateful for the plane to have come, not only for the patients and the unexpected food supplies but I felt that they also wanted to share their sorrow and their stories with anyone who could possibly help them' said pilot Steven Eatwell.
Nagei Waruka, a 40-year-old expectant mother, was covered by a landslide shortly after the earthquake. She survived but tragically lost her entire family in the landslide. She is pregnant and in a critical condition with injuries to her legs, back and arms. Men from the village carried her across a river and up to the airstrip where MAF was able to transport her Mt Hagen for treatment.
Other passengers included a man in his 20s with chest and abdominal complaints after his house collapsed on Tuesday night following an aftershock. A woman in her 30s with a 3-year-old child suffered cuts and bruises after they were struck by a falling tree branch.
MAF provided medevac packs for the patients with a few basic necessities including toiletries, some clothes and a towel, for their stay in hospital. Staff member Mandy Glass and some of her colleagues helped transport the walking wounded to hospital in Mount Hagen.
MAF Technology Services (known as CRMF is Papua New Guinea), have been answering calls for assistance from remote communities via HF radio. Further medevac flights are expected over the next few days as communications open up.
Food and clean water
Aid agencies including MAF are responding with co-ordinated efforts to meet the needs of the worst hit communities. With damage to road network, it is anticipated that the distribution of aid will happen by air. Information provided by MAF and Technology Services is helping to identify communities are yet to be contacted by HF radio in order to assess needs. MAF is on standby to provide assistance if required.
According to the UN, of the nearly half a million people are thought to be living in earthquake affected areas, 273,814 people are in need of immediate assistance. A further 164,070 have been categorised as extremely food insecure, after gardens were destroyed. Some areas engaged in subsistence agriculture were already food insecure before the earthquake hit, due to drought.
There are concerns over the availability of clean water as many rivers are either blocked and stagnant or flowing with mud and silt. Some drinking water sources have been contaminated by dead fish and crocodiles.