A series of aftershocks rattled Papua New Guinea's Southern Highlands province from late on Sunday, March 4 (local time) to early on Monday, March 5. The aftershocks come after a large 7.5-magnitude earthquake struck the region on February 26, leaving at least 31 people dead. According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), six aftershocks between the magnitudes of 4.2 and 6.0 struck the rural province between 21:44 on Sunday and 08:38 on Monday. Information regarding potential associated casualties and material damages is not currently available; further details regarding the tremors are still emerging. Additional aftershocks are possible in Southern Highlands province and elsewhere in Papua New Guinea in the coming hours and days.
The Papuan government declared a state of emergency in the provinces of Southern Highlands, Western Highlands, Hela, and Enga on March 2 following the February 26 earthquake. Significant damage has been reported to infrastructure in the affected areas, resulting in power outages and including damages to water and communications networks. The earthquake also triggered landslides which have blocked several roads in the region, complicating recovery efforts. Nearly 150,000 people are in acute need of emergency aid and assistance.
Papua New Guinea is located on the "Ring of Fire," a zone of tectonic activity around the Pacific that is subject to frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
Individuals present in the impacted region are advised to be prepared for aftershocks and to heed any instructions issued by local authorities. In the event of aftershocks, individuals are advised to protect themselves as much as possible from falling debris if indoors (e.g. under a table), to move away from windows, and to not attempt to leave buildings until the shaking stops. If outdoors, move away from tall buildings, utility wires, and streetlights.
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