PNG PM says Hela quake damage costs over US$61m

The initial damage bill from February‘s massive earthquake in Papua New Guinea‘s Hela Province alone is more than US$ 61 million, says PNG‘s prime minister.

PNG communities at risk of flooding following damning rivers by landslides triggered by 7.5 magnitude earthquake. Photo: Barbara Lokes/OilSearchLtd

Peter O‘Neill said experts on the ground had calculated the disaster would go into hundreds of millions of dollars once other earthquake affected provinces were confirmed.

He said the government had contributed more than $6m to the districts that were affected to assist in the relief efforts.

The Post Courier reported earlier North Fly MP James Donald told Parliament government figures had not been given and of the $15m contributed by the OK Tedi Mining company, none had been spent in Western Province where the money had come from.

PNG Prime MInister Peter O‘Neill consoles a woman in earthquake-affected Hela province. Photo: PNG PM Media Office

The prime minister said the government had released millions of dollars to all districts and provinces affected by the disaster and that included North Fly.

Mr O‘Neill said the government had made a commitment for the next three to four years of $138m which would be funded out of the budget to make sure that destroyed infrastructure was rebuilt.

He said the total cost of over $60m was an example of the enormity of the challenge ahead.