About 3:40 in the morning our house began to shake, the bed beneath me rolling as if on the sea. The picture frames on the wall banged and slid around on their nails. The faint sound of breaking glass came.
” Jenny!” Sarah’s frightened voice sounded from the bunk bed above.
The family jumped out of their beds and came together in the living room.
“Is someone at the door?” Grace looked anxiously at the violent banging front door which sounded as if someone was lunging again and again against the door, moving even with three bolts shut fast.
It was an earthquake! We flipped on the lights. In the illuminated room the ground continued to roll and shake. We could keep our footing, but our world seemed to shift. Then the lights went out and blackout fell upon Goroka.
Being normal as it happens most days, the blackout came as no surprise, yet this time seemed more sinister because of what caused it. Having recently watched San Andreas didn’t help, either.
We felt two faint aftershocks as the night turned to dawn, but nothing as big as what we had felt the first time.
The next morning we checked our gas stove and water for leaks or damage, but thankfully found none. So sitting down for breakfast, we looked up news on the internet. Larger than any tremors we had felt before, we had realized this was a big quake. But we were astonished to learn that it had in fact been a 7.5 in magnitude, originating in our highlands of PNG!
From our friend Remo Ruegg (based in Hagen, closer to the origin point):
“…my fridge got moved around about a foot and a half, numerous spices went flying, shelves went wandering… and a glass bowl, loaded with tomatoes, shattered…The office was a bit messy today with filing cabinets that tipped over, but nothing broke. However, in Telefomin I hear they have a water tank that got wrecked, one fell off a roof and someone had a pipe breakage. “
This earthquake was followed by a magnitude 5.5 quake shortly after to the northwest of the first.
6.2 and 6.0 magnitude earthquakes came the 27th, the following day.
While Goroka is too far away to see any major damage, many places farther into the highlands have been affected seriously, with landslides being the greatest danger following the earthquakes.
Thirty people are reported dead and many houses are destroyed. CRMF busily monitors the radio since most cell services are not currently working in those areas. We are partnering with missions, government, and NGO’s to quickly respond to this natural disaster and coordinate medevacs.