Doctor in PNG says team overworked following quake

10:39 am on 8 March 2018

The doctor who is in charge of the medical response in Papua New Guinea's earthquake-devastated Hela Province says his team is close to burning out, with backup yet to arrive.

A landslide cutting of the road from Tambul to Mendi following a 7.5 earthquake.

A landslide cutting of the road from Tambul to Mendi following a 7.5 earthquake. Photo: Andrew Solomon

It has been 10 days since a 7.5 magnitude earthquake killed at least 76 people in the remote Highlands, and giant landslides cut off most of Hela.

Dr Tana Kiak said his hospital has only about 10 doctors and they have been working non-stop going from village-to-village all day, every day, since the earthquake first struck.

There have been ongoing aftershocks since and Dr Kiak said they really need help.

"It is very difficult because sometimes you want to have a good rest before you go out and make medical evacuations," he said.

"But then you have tremors - aftershocks - and we are still awake in the morning and we have to still go out and collect those very seriously injured people."

He said until now they still have not had any assistance from the outside.

Aid agencies and the national government said support was on its way to Hela but Dr Kiak says that help can't come soon enough.

NZ/Australia and ExxonMobil provide aid for PNG

The Australian government is increasing its humanitarian support to Papua New Guinea following last week's earthquake.

Its defence force is deploying three army Chinook helicopters this week with additional personnel and supplies to support the relief effort.

They'll join 80 defence force staff and 75 Australian police already in PNG

The government said an air force Hercules had so far made nine flights to affected areas, delivering about $US150,000 worth of supplies, including tarpaulins, bed mats and water containers.

It said the Hercules has also transported medical items as well as supplies from the Red Cross, the World Health Organisation and the UN.

Australia will also provide up to $US780,000 to support vulnerable women and children in the earthquake-affected areas.

The government said its development assistance to PNG this year will total an estimated $US426 million.

New Zealand will also make a further deployment of aid to Papua New Guinea to help with the emergency response.

A second airforce Hercules aircraft carrying emergency relief supplies will depart New Zealand for Port Moresby today carrying mother and infant kits, family hygiene kits and tarpaulins.

New Zealand foreign minister Winston Peters said while in PNG, the Hercules will assist with the delivery of relief items to the affected Highlands region in partnership with PNG authorities and other development partners.

Mr Peters said New Zealand stands ready to help the people and Government of PNG in the best way it can.

Earlier this week, the New Zealand government committed an initial $US360,000 to the emergency response.

ExxonMobil PNG has also pitched in by bringing forward its annual donation to the Salvation Army to purchase relief supplies for people affected by the earthquake.

Operations at the company's $US19 billion liquified natural gas project in the Highlands has been suspended while damage to infrastructure is assessed.

As well as the donation, ExxonMobil PNG said it had purchased a large quantity of food for the Salvation Army to distribute in Moro in Hela Province.

The company's managing director, Andrew Barry, joined other staff in Port Moresby on Tuesday, volunteering to prepare the supplies.

Mr Barry said the rations will provide food for one month for about 250 households.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs