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At least one company began evacuating non-essential personnel after a powerful 7.5 magnitude earthquake hit Papua New Guinea's energy-rich interior on Monday, causing landslides, damaging buildings and closing oil and gas operations.WELLINGTON/MELBOURNE: At least one company began evacuating non-essential personnel after a powerful 7.5 magnitude earthquake hit Papua New Guinea's energy-rich interior on Monday, causing landslides, damaging buildings and closing oil and gas operations.
Several other aid and missionary agencies said poor communications in the area made damage and injury assessment difficult.
Thousands of people have been evacuated from islands surrounding Kadovar Island off the South Pacific nation's north coast since the volcano there began erupting on Jan. Flights nearby have been canceled due to the risk posed by ash plumes and ships were warned to stay away from the island.
"It's very serious all across the Southern Highlands and also all over the western highlands.
People are definitely very frightened," Udaya Regmi, the head of the IRC in Papua New Guinea, said by telephone from Port Moresby.
Observers hailed the success of the UN administration of East Timor and its successful transition to independence. Meantime, the US and Indonesia were busy carving up West Papua's rich natural resources.
But few are aware of the UN's failure in its first attempt at administration in West Papua more than 40 years earlier. Having signed concession agreements with US mining company Freeport in 1967, two years before the scheduled vote, Indonesia had no intention of allowing West Papuan independence (Freeport is a major contributor to Indonesia's GDP, and Kissinger was later rewarded with a place on Freeport's board).
The PNG government also said it had sent disaster assessment teams.
At least 13 aftershocks with a magnitude of 5.0 or more rattled the area throughout the day, according to USGS data, but no tsunami warnings were issued.
But as UN Representative Ortiz Sanz told Australian journalist Hugh Lunn, "West [Papua] is like a cancerous growth on the side of the UN and my job is to surgically remove it". In 1969, Sanz reported the vote's outcome to the UN General Assembly, noting only that "Indonesian" and not "international" voting practice was adopted.
West Papua formally became a province of Indonesia.