Death toll of Papua New Guinea natural disaster rises

PNG earthquake: Strong aftershocks rock highlands as 150000 wait for aid

The New Zealand government is giving an initial $500,000 worth of help to the emergency response following the deadly 7.5 magnitude natural disaster in Papua New Guinea.

The fatalities of the quake which hit Papua New Guinea's mountainous areas, escalated to over 67, as thousands of homeless people are left without food or running water.

Three magnitude five aftershocks hit the nation's Southern Highlands region on Monday.

The 7.5 magnitude quake killed dozens of people and caused widespread damage.

Apart from the death toll, around 1.43 lakh people have been affected by the quake and 17,000 people have been displaced due to partial or full destruction of their homes, reported AFP quoting Red Cross figures.

Compounding the fallout was an announcement Monday that the impoverished country's biggest-ever development-the PNG LNG project operated by USA energy giant ExxonMobil-would be offline for up to eight weeks as the quake-hit facilities are repaired.

"About 143,000 people are affected and 17,000 people have been generally displaced because their homes are either fully or partially damaged and in no condition to live in".

Around 7,000 people have been rendered homeless, and 1.47 lakh are in need of food, water and sanitation facilities, the director of the International Red Cross in Papua New Guinea told Reuters.

"We know at least 500 people are injured and 127,000 people need immediate aid such as food, water, shelter and healthcare" Regmi said.

Relief efforts are slowly being expanded, with millions of dollars in aid pledged by the government, ExxonMobil and Australian energy producers Oil Search and Santos, which are involved in the gas project.

Australia, New Zealand and the Red Cross have all pledged aid to help the recovery process.

Peter Botten, the Managing Director of Oil Search surveyed the damage and said that the impact "has been enormous, with many deaths in the region as well as the destruction of houses, schools, roads and bridges".

"The challenge is road access, it's still not accessible to trucks and four-wheel-drives", Mr Regmi said.