MAF have been working closely with our partners to respond to needs in remote communities in the wake of the 7.6 earthquake that struck Papua New Guinea on 26 February 2018.
With 65 years of operational flying in PNG, MAF is well placed to assist our partners and the earthquake affected communities they serve.
'Thanks are extended to all MAF's partners involved in the disaster response for their continued effort.'
MAF programme and disaster response staff have assisted a number of organisations working together to gather information, conduct needs assessments and distribute relief goods to remote areas.
Support from local businesses
MAF flew relief goods such as water, food and tarpaulins/canvas donated by several Mount Hagen businesses, directly into the affected areas soon after the earthquake.
The donations included a large consignment of drinking water received from the International Training Institute (ITI), a higher learning college with 10 campuses around PNG.
'We want to say thank you to the International Training Institute, their Managing Director Mr Kumaran Sentheyval, as well as the Disaster Relief team of SIL that are assisting in the stricken areas.'
2,640 water bottles, weighing 1,595 kg, were loaded in Port Moresby to be brought up to Mt Hagen.
It will be distributed by SIL Aviation who have donated aircraft space to fly the fresh drinking water the southern highlands and the western provinces, where landslides have contaminated fresh water sources.
The initial MAF survey flight, conducted soon after the earthquake, was an invaluable tool for our partners.
Organisations including the Australian Defence Forces (ADF) were able to use the geolocated photos for their program planning.
An Mt Hagen stationed representative of ADF commented: 'The 200 photos from the early MAF survey flight definitely shaped our understanding of the disaster, more than any other sources we had.'
The aerial survey has been followed up by in-depth assessments carried out by our partners on the ground.
Between 5 March and 10 March a helicopter, funded by a mining company, flew program specialist Anton Lutz to more than twenty-four destinations in the areas hit by the earthquakes, visiting more than 6,351 people at those locations and determining the extent of the damage from Wasana in the south to Tinahae in the north.
'The early MAF survey flight definitely shaped our understanding of the disaster, more than any other sources we had.' Australian Defence Forces
Anton was able to interview the people, assess their situation, conduct limited search and rescue operations where needed, locate persons thought to be dead, rescue persons left for dead, transport patients to the health centre at Mougulu and deliver essential food, water and shelter to hundreds of people.
More aftershocks since the initial quake, including one of 6.7 magnitude on 7 March, have caused further landslides. Some remote parts of the border between Western, Hela and Southern Highlands had been badly affected.
There are about three thousand five hundred (3,500) people living at 6 newly forming care centres after they had to leave their homes.
At least twenty thousand people (20,000) in the affected area now live in unstable and dangerous housing.
With water supplies damaged in some cases, people have no choice but to drink polluted water.
A percentage of gardens have sustained not only landslides but damage to fences, and now pigs have invaded the gardens while the people gather at the care centres.
Extensive landslides have made rivers unpredictable and dangerous at this time and many people must cross rivers to get from their gardens to their houses.
Health centres have collapsed. Many other aid posts are not staffed or supplied.
MAF continues to work with SIL in delivering aid (food, water, shelter). These goods are at Mt. Hagen and are being distributed by MAF and SIL amongst the villages.
It is anticipated that an ongoing response will be needed for some months to come, while communities rebuild and those in the worst affected areas relocate.
Thanks are extended to all MAF's partners involved in the disaster response for their continued effort.
'Thank you to our supporters who continue to pray and give financially so remote communities can be reached.'