On 25 February an earthquake of magnitude 7.5 hit Papua New Guinea (PNG) affecting mainly Southern Highlands, Hela, Western Highlands, Western Province, and Enga provinces. The affected area is mountainous and remote, although impact has been reported in Mendi city, almost 100km away. An estimated 274,600 people are within 50km of the epicentre. Approximately 326,000 people are estimated to be very strongly impacted, according to the Modified Mercalli Scale. Initial reports are limited but there are indications of urgent needs, including for health, shelter and WASH assistance. Various impact, including damage, casualties and landslides, has been reported in at least seven locations: Hides, Porgera, Mendi, Nipa-Kutubu, Tari-Pori, and Huilya.
Papua New Guinea (PNG) is prone to numerous natural hazards. Natural hazards include: volcanic eruptions; earthquakes; tropical cyclones; landslides; flooding; sporadic droughts; tsunamis; frosts in highland areas; rising sea levels. Disasters continually hamper the development process in urban and remote rural locations. Statistics fail to cover the multitude of often unreported smaller disasters, such as localised landslides and floods. These low level, chronic disasters have a disproportionate impact on the poorest and most isolated communities in PNG.
Several worrying development trends are exacerbating the impact of these disasters. PNG has seen a large population growth, from 3 million people in 1980 to more than 7 million in 2012. Urban-rural migration is on the rise and the cash economy is becoming increasingly important, leaving those who depend on barter and trade unable to access (paid) services such as education, health and transport. PNG suffers from one of the highest crime rates in the world, and violence and sexual abuse against women and children is a major protection concern.