20 Jul 2010

PNG quake damage confined to traditional structures but could be extensive

3:37 pm on 20 July 2010

The disaster management office in Papua New Guinea says damage from earthquakes which struck New Britain Island is limited to semi-permanent structures, but could be quite widespread.

Two tremors, the stronger measuring 7.3, occurred on Sunday night and were widely felt in West New Britain.

Paul Kaliop, the director of the West New Britain disaster management office, says it's impossible to tell yet what the damage is like in remote villages.

"What we initially thought was just a couple of houses in a certain area is actually widespread, but it is quite sporadic. Because it is such a big area, although the damage is limited, that's a lot of resources and time just moving around."

Paul Kaliop says officials are hoping to have the use of a helicopter in the coming days, to allow them to fully assess the damage.