Melbourne: Up to 14 people were killed in landslides and by collapsed buildings during a powerful earthquake in the remote Papua New Guinea highlands, police and a hospital worker said on Tuesday, with unconfirmed reports of up to 30 dead.
The 7.5 magnitude quake that rocked the region early on Monday also damaged mining and power infrastructure.
Two buildings collapsed and along with a landslide killed 12 people in Mendi, the provincial capital of the Southern Highlands, said Julie Sakol, a nurse at Mendi General Hospital, where the bodies were brought to the morgue. "People are afraid. The shaking is still continuing. There's nowhere to go but people are just moving around," she said.
Dozens of aftershocks rattled the area, including a 5.7 quake on Tuesday afternoon, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.
Police in Mendi said 14 people were killed in the initial quake, including three in Poroma, south of Mendi.
"They were killed by landslides destroying families sleeping in their houses," said Naring Bongi, a police officer in Mendi.
Provincial Administrator William Bando said more than 30 people were believed to have been killed in the rugged region, about 560 km (350 miles) northwest of the capital, Port Moresby, the Papua New Guinea Post-Courier reported.
The PNG disaster management office said it was verifying the reports but it could take days to confirm a death toll. With a lack of communications preventing a clear assessment of damage, aid agencies had not yet begun relief efforts, said Udaya Regmi, head of the International Red Cross in Papua New Guinea, in Port Moresby.
"The magnitude of the earthquake is quite huge, so there must be an impact... but we cannot say how many people are actually affected and what they need," Regmi said.