5 Mar 2018

New Zealand commits initial $500k to Papua New Guinea

12:38 pm on 5 March 2018

New Zealand is committing an initial half a million dollars to help the emergency response in Papua New Guinea after last week's devastating earthquake.

PNG communities at risk of flooding following damning rivers by landslides triggered by 7.5 magnitude earthquake.

Landslides in Papua New Guinea after it was hit by a devastating earthquake last week. Photo: Barbara Lokes/OilSearchLtd

An Air Force Hercules will leave on Monday morning for Port Moresby carrying hygiene kits, shelter supplies, water containers and tarpaulins.

The 7.5-magnitude quake wreaked havoc in the provinces of Hela, Southern Highlands and Western last Monday, leaving dozens dead.

Tens of thousands of people are in urgent need of help with the worst-affected communities cut off by landslides and damaged roads.

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters said New Zealand was working closely with local authorities, the United Nations and aid workers on the ground.

"New Zealand stands ready to assist," he said.

"Our thoughts are with the government and the people of Papua New Guinea as they come to terms with the scale of this disaster."

The aid pledge is the latest offer of assistance from around the world.

Australia's government began flying in relief supplies last Thursday, after announcing a $AU200,000 ($NZ214,528) aid package.

The Chinese government and China's Red Cross have also pledged assistance.

Among the first to commit substantial funds were the oil and gas companies operating in the area around the quake's epicentre.

PNG-incorporated Oil Search has committed $US5m, in addition to $US1m from multi-national giant ExxonMobil.

Both energy firms have suspended their operations in the Highlands region.

As many as 80 deaths have been reported in total, but the death toll is still unclear due to severely disrupted transport and telecommunications links.

The country's Highlands region is still being rocked by aftershocks - the latest, a magnitude 6 tremor on Monday morning.

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