a brief report on the situation of earth quake in Bougainville in the last few days
The quake first struck Friday evening 4th April quite late past 10pm . It was definitely beyond 7 on the R scale. Since then it has always been felt stronger and frequent on South West of the Island : Buin Siwai, Bana and Torokina. This is the area where the Epi Centre is reported to be close by .
That initial quake was reported from Buin, Piano area ( close to the Yamamoto crash site) with a house collapse killing a child. Otherwise, There were unreported collapse of houses , land slides and cracks of some churches but one other one was a Ward in the Buka Hospital in the Northern part
The second quake struck between 3-4pm on Saturday 19th of April Here in the North it was not too strong and it may have been 5-6 on the R scale? No new damage was reported .
The third and biggest scary one struck close to 11-12 midnight on Saturday 19th of April ; Easter Vigil hours !!! . In the North it was felt like 7 -8 on the R scale. So in the South West it was felt really more?
The places which mass / services started early got caught on their return and the ones who had late starts or second mass ( shortages of priests) were caught in the churches !!! So imagine what happened ? ?? Some left only the priests and a few inside at elevation !! Others had homilies cut short !! One place was at blessing of the baptismal water and the shaking of the water had the priest' baptized ' rather than the babies!!! In a church a young girl struck her head on brick posts as people tried to rush out. One mother left her child sleeping in the church while she ran away for her life ! Lucky no priests ran away from the people.
Lucky in the north I had finished but was having a mumu meal offered by a family for Easter but also to remember 1st anniversary of my mum's death . We almost had it like a last meal!
Reports so far show another dead and churches in the south cracked , statues , tabernacles , cross , walls and floor foundations . And more people's houses and gardens destroyed by land slides
In Torokina , West Coast Bougainville there was sea rise that went into two to three coastline villages who had to move Inland in scramble . Some rivers are dirty as land slides damned them up ,
We do not have a diocese level Caritas proper set up. It is the same In parishes but we are already making plans to do that some months down the line this year. And for what these quakes have damaged we are organizing to collect data through informants from remote areas and site visits where possible '
Reports of at least three new signs of "volcano sites " inland abound though the more general one on TV and radio reports is an undersea one, which is always said to be close to Panguna's South West of Bougainville area.
Overall , while worse may come but i can say that the situation has not reached acute level as in Honiara yet though of a different nature.
But here especially , we need to prepare ourselves first from which we may need external help.
I am told by our caritas man here that even Turangu Appeal was not so good this year from the people so if they don't respond generously they should not expect generous help from outside. I will insist on internal appeal first.
Thanks to all
Bp Bernard Unabali