When the mountains trembled - Two years since the PNG Highlands Earthquake

News and Press Release
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© UNICEF/Thomas Nybo

26 FEBRUARY 2018

Exactly two years ago, a massive 7.5 magnitude earthquake devastated many remote communities in the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea.

The earthquake and hundreds of aftershocks affected over half a million people, displaced almost 20,000 people, and destroyed many roads, bridges, homes, schools and hospitals in the remote lands. An already insecure and remote part of Papua New Guinea became even more precarious and isolated.

Each aftershock caused widespread panic and people slept outside in the open, fearing that the darkness would take them away too. Aerial assessments soon after the earthquake showed large landslides in many areas. Entire villages were cut off from receiving humanitarian aid for days and weeks. Affected people had to come together as a community to support each other.

The isolation was compounded by ongoing fighting between clans. Reports confirmed that these conflicts resulted in the displacement of people, loss of service resources, a decline in productivity and economic activity, and heightened tensions in the Highlands.

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