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Rescuers in PNG run airlifts to remote areas following quake

9:53 am on 14 September 2022

Injured villager on a stretcher being evacuated by helicopter from Kombul village. Photo: Erebiri ZURENUOC / MANOLOS AVIATION / AFP

Volunteer rescuers in Papua New Guinea have run numerous airlifts to remote areas, trying to reach those still stranded two days after a 7.6 magnitude earthquake.

The quake, which was followed by a 5.0 magnitude shake an hour later, killed at least seven people and damaged multiple buildings and infrastructure.

Media reports say at least 389 houses collapsed in the town of Madang alone, according to United Nations assessors now on the ground.

It is expected the damage toll will rise as ground staff reaches other communities.

Helicopter pilot Jurgen Ruh flying past a landslide near Kombul village. Photo: Erebiri ZURENUOC / MANOLOS AVIATION / AFP

Maki Igarashi, from the International Federation of the Red Cross, told AFP it was very difficult to access most of the locations because of the remoteness of the affected area.

She said the earthquake's epicentre was in "the middle of the jungle."

Pilot Jurgen Ruh, the owner of Manolos Aviation, told the news agency he had lost count of the number of medical evacuations he had carried out since the earthquake hit.

Ruh said the youngest rescuee was two years old, adding that the girl, who had a broken skull, had survived after emergency surgery.

With PNG government resources limited, much of the rescue effort has been carried out by small private companies and volunteers.

The pilot said his company had received calls directly from people in need of evacuation.

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