Gr 10 student badly burnt during PNG’s quake

A Grade 10 student is in critical condition after she was badly burnt when the kitchen she was in collapsed during Papua New Guinea’s 7.5 magnitude earthquake on February 26.

Rachael Max, who is from Mendi, Southern Highlands Province, is being treated with traditional medicine and prayers from the faithfuls with hopes that God will spare her life.

She lives with her sister in Tubage Village in the Lake Kutubu area.

Her sister is married to a man from Tubage.

Senior Constable Bob Kone, a policeman at Moro police station, who is also from Tubage, said the young girl went fishing early that morning and after returning with her catch, decided to cook.

While she was cooking, the earth shook.

She, however, did not come out of the traditional thatched kitchen as she thought someone was trying to play tricks with her.

When the quake worsened, it was too late; the roof of the kitchen collapsed on her, spilling the hot oil she used to fry the fish all over her body.

The burns worsened with the heat of the fire as she was crouched down next to it, unable to move.

Fortunately, villagers rescued her a few hours later.

Senior Constable Kone said they are unable to take her to the nearest health centre as most public servants have left and the roads cut off by landslides.

He said at this stage, they are literally praying for a miracle to happen.

Rachael’s story is the same for many villagers who have received severe or minor injuries but cannot access health care.

Kone said Government authorities assessing the damages are yet to visit them.

Charmaine Poriambep