Peace deal for warring tribes after PNG quake

A peace deal is being brokered between warring tribes in Papua New Guinea‘s quake affected Hela province.

There are unconfirmed reports that at least eight people have been killed so far in the violence which is linked to disputes over land ownership.

The unrest has also affected relief efforts in the wake of the massive 7.5 magnitude earthquake in February which killed at least 125 people.

Powerful aftershocks also continue to rock the region with the latest a 6.3 quake which struck the provincial capital Tari on Saturday killing four people and destroying more buildings.

A military officer working to coordinate relief efforts in the province, Francis Vitata said authorities were trying to mediate between the warring parties.

“But we have yesterday discussed with one party. The following opposing force we will send the police in to establish dialogue and then set a time and place and then we will go and meet with them,”

he said.

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

PNG military flying in doctors to staff Tari hospital

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 the ongoing tribal violence.

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

“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,” he said.

Francis Vitata said the weekend quake caused widespread damage to buildings already weakened by February‘s tremor completely destroying many and leaving people without shelter.

He said it had been a real setback to the relief effort.

“The primary concern is food water and shelter. Now I have gone a little bit further than that. Those ones initially the delivery of those things have subsided and then I am looking at the second phase which is the rebuilding phase. Unfortunately the 6.3-magnitude on Saturday means revisiting those areas again.”