By HELEN TARAWA
PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill says an independent team of experts from Australia will investigate and review the cause of the earthquake which has killed more than 100 people and destroyed countless properties.
O’Neill told The National, in response to claims by people especially in the affected areas that the disaster was linked to the oil and gas projects in the area, that there was no proof of the claims.
Therefore, O’Neill has asked Australia to provide the experts who will independently conduct the investigation and review.
The 7.5 magnitude earthquake 11 days ago caused massive destruction in Hela, Southern Highlands, Western and Enga.
O’Neill said records with the United States Geological Society showed that a similar earthquake struck the country in 1921 or 1922 – a frequent occurrence around the Ring of Fire”
The Ring of Fire is a major area in the basin of the Pacific Ocean where a large number of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur.
Countries in the ring include the United States, Japan and New Zealand.
“I went to Tari (on Wednesday) and some of the people were concerned that this earthquake will cause more destruction,” he said.
“They wanted an independent review and report on what is happening.
“In that regard, I have already asked the Australian government to provide us with experts to review the cause of the earthquake.”
O’Neill said the report would be released by the Australian government and the independent team.
“I want to distance the government (from the investigation) because I don’t want people to think that it is a compromised report as we are partners in the project as well,” he said.
“We want to get the Australian experts to come in and they have already agreed to it and work will start shortly.”
Hela Governor Philip Undialu and Tari-Pori MP James Marape have also called for the investigation to determine if the earthquake was somehow linked to mining projects.
By HELEN TARAWA