WELLINGTON, New Zealand - At least 55 people have been confirmed dead and authorities fear the toll could exceed 100 from last week's powerful quake in Papua New Guinea, as survivors faced more shaking early Wednesday from the strongest aftershock so far.
The magnitude 6.7 quake hit just after midnight local time in the mountainous region around the border of Western and Hela provinces.
Local media outlets on Tuesday reported the death toll from the original quake had risen to 75, after government officials said previously that 55 people had been killed.
Johnny Blades has more.
Early Monday morning, a 7.5-magnitude natural disaster tore through a largely rural region of Papua New Guinea, about 50 miles south of Porgera.
Aid agencies were struggling to get aid by helicopter to all of the almost 150,000 people who remained in urgent need of emergency supplies.
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"Mothers and children are so traumatized", United Church project officer James Komengi told Reuters.
Australia, New Zealand and the Red Cross have all pledged aid, although reaching the remote area has proved hard as forbidding terrain and bad weather, as well as damaged roads and runways, have delayed aid efforts.
Australia and New Zealand said on Wednesday they would increase aid to Papua New Guinea.
The International Red Cross warned the situation could deteriorate if heavy rains hit the region.
"Compounding the fallout was an announcement on Monday that the impoverished country's biggest-ever development " the PNG LNG project operated by U.S. energy giant ExxonMobil " will be offline for up to eight weeks as the quake-hit facilities undergo repairs.
The Red Cross said its initial assessments indicate that as many as 143,000 people could have been affected, with an estimated 500 people injured and 17,000 people displaced from their homes. All employees and contractors were safe.