PNG military flying in doctors to staff Tari hospital

Young men brandishing bushknives are a common sight in Tari. Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

The PNG military is flying in its own doctors and medical personnel to help out at Tari Hospital in Hela after an exodus of staff amid ongoing tribal violence.

There are unconfirmed reports eight people have died in the fighting which has also hampered relief efforts after a massive 7.5 magnitude quake in February which killed at least 125 people.

Compounding problems are the continuing aftershocks, the latest a 6.3 magnitude quake which struck Tari, the provincial capital, on Saturday, killing four people and destroying more buildings.

A military officer helping to coordinate the relief effort in Tari said the latest earthquake had been a real setback to the relief effort.

Francis Vitata said medical personnel at the main provincial hospital who left did so out of fear for their own safety.

He said “but we have mitigated that and I will be having eleven military medics already on the ground. And I will be flying, there is 20 more flying in tomorrow.”