The current death toll from Monday’s 7.5 magnitude earthquake stands at 31, according to verified reports over the last 24 hours sourced by EMTV.
Three separate sources in Southern Highlands, Hela and Western Provinces have also said the number of those injured and missing remain uncertain at this stage.
Firmin Tiki, from Pureni village, Hela province, said there are six confirmed deaths in his village alone. Several of those injured by the quake were taken to Tari Hospital for treatment.
“Six people died. I don’t know how many more are injured. But there are many.”
Tiki who is a rice farmer at the National Agriculture Research Institute (NARI) had just returned to his village when the quake struck early Monday.
“All our houses, our gardens have been destroyed. I don’t know about other places but we were hit hard.”
Across the Strickland River in villages near the epicenter on the Hela-Western border, a community Health Worker, Paul Isilawa, confirmed that 13 people were buried on Monday.
They belong to the Edolo tribe whose hamlets are located in an area difficult to get to.
Sally Lloyd who grew up in the Western Province said nine of those who died are from Fau and four are from Aiya.
Both villages are within the Hela Provincial boundaries. The reports were sent from the Mogulu Mission Station in Western Province by two-way radio.
In Mendi, Catholic Priest Fr. Pius Hal, told EMTV that 11 people are confirmed dead. One family is still buried under a landslip. Two of the children belong to a Local Level Government (LLG) president.
“I am at the site where the family is buried. There is a lot of uncertainly about whether help will come. People are traumatized and they need to be comforted.
“The family who is buried are my relatives. They had just returned from Hagen the day before,” he said.
Mobile phone towers destroyed by the quake are slowly being repaired. So far, information coming from far flung areas has remained unverified. The death toll is expected to rise as new information becomes available.