Papua New Guinea (MAF/MNN) – Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) is providing assistance following a 7.5 earthquake that struck Papua New Guinea (PNG) on Monday, Feb. 26, causing many landslides and damaging roads, structures, power lines and communication systems. According to reports, at least 16 people were killed. The ground continues to shake from powerful aftershocks.
Following the quake, MAF has received many requests for medical evacuation flights. MAF has also been doing fly-overs to check on remote communities, and on Tuesday, Feb. 28, carried PNG disaster officials on an extensive aerial survey.
Mission Aviation Fellowship and its associated ministry, Christian Radio Missionary Fellowship (CRMF), have been serving the people of PNG since the early 1950s from bases at Mt. Hagen, Goroka, Kawito, Kiunga (Rumginae), Madang, Tari, Wewak, and Telefomin/Tabubil. MAF operates flight services to remote and isolated communities in PNG, while CRMF provides radio communication, computing, solar lighting, digital audio bibles and other technology services.
While telephones are not working in many places following the earthquakes, CRMF’s radio network is up and running and people are using it to call for medical assistance. The MAF/CRMF team is also passing along information about problems such as damaged airstrips, road closures, and damage to clinics, schools and other important buildings.
According to Sharon Coker, who serves with MAF in PNG, “The earthquake epicenter was in a fairly unpopulated area. From photos and aerial assessment, most damage was just to hillsides and areas where people do not live. There are a lot of roadblocks from landslides that will prevent ease of access.”
Other concerns Coker notes:
- Many rivers are blocked with debris, especially trees. Flooding may become an issue.
- Clean water is not available in several locations.
- Many gardens have been destroyed. This may impact food availability for communities.
MAF’s 150 staff in PNG are safe. Some MAF facilities and houses experienced minor damage, such as broken dishes and damage to water systems.
Mission Aviation Fellowship is a global family of organizations that uses aviation and technology to share the Gospel and make life better for people in remote parts of Africa, Asia, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Asia-Pacific region. In times of crisis, MAF’s disaster response team can mobilize quickly so that aid gets to those in need. Most recently, MAF has responded to Hurricanes Irma and Maria in the Caribbean, Hurricane Matthew in Haiti, and earthquakes that devastated Nepal in 2015. MAF-US is based in Nampa, Idaho.