Earthquake 'so big and so violent'

Tana Kiak and Katy Condliffe with their children, Handari (2) and baby daughter (not yet named) born on March 29.

Tana Kiak and Katy Condliffe with their children, Handari (2) and baby daughter (not yet named) born on March 29.

'Harrowing' doesn't begin to describe the destruction left by Papua New Guinea's 7.5 magnitude earthquake that shook the Southern Highlands, killing more than 100 people and injuring thousands more.

Three weeks on from the tragedy, Dr Tana Kiak returned home to Kyneton for the birth of his second child to partner Katy Condliffe, but the disaster ground is a hard image to shake.

"The impact was so big and so violent. Nothing like this had ever happened in this area before," he said.

As Hela Province medical team leader, Dr Kiak headed a team of doctors during critical disaster response and was the only medical help for the remote region for 10 days before relief teams became available.

The area could not be accessed by road or plane - the only way in or out was by helicopter.

Despite the dangers of aftershocks, roadways blocked and buckled, collapsed mountains and entire villages buried, Dr Kiak and his colleagues set out to assist hundreds of the injured.

"We could not wait. We had to help people," Dr Kiak said.

"We were working continuously. People were screaming, dying, people were buried alive. They were traumatised. We were also feeling the effect of it. A lot of people were mentally impacted."

Dr Kiak said that even now people were too scared to re-enter their homes as the aftershocks continued.

The medical team spent days scouring the rubble and saved hundreds of lives, working and operating by lights of generators and even mobile phones during power outages.

"We didn't have any light in the theatre. It was frightening. In a situation like this you need to think and you need be creative and innovative," Dr Kiak said.

Exhausted and relieved to be home for the birth of son, Dr Kiak's thoughts are not far from those back in the Southern Highlands struggling through the disaster.

Relief efforts will continue as the region battles disease, contaminated water and food and medical supply shortages, and through family connection Kyneton Rotary Club is coming on board to assist.

"Over half a million people are affected and over 150,000 have unsuitable or no housing following this disaster. Now is the time that we can step in to help," Rotarian John Condliffe said.

Kyneton Rotary Club aims to raise between $1000 and $3000 over the next month to assist with food and combating disease.

Fundraising efforts will soon take place with more details to be released closer to the date.

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