Home Emergency Management News EDM Monday Briefing: Papua New Guinea Death Toll Rises Amid Strong Aftershocks

EDM Monday Briefing: Papua New Guinea Death Toll Rises Amid Strong Aftershocks


Emergency and disaster management briefing for March 5, 2018: New aftershocks rock Papua New Guinea as the death toll rises, an avalanche on Mammoth Mountain outside of Fresno, California results in minor injuries to guests and employees, the Coast Guard hosted a week-long joint training with the Port of Virginia, Indiana adds four more counties to its disaster declaration due to widespread flooding, after nearly 180 deaths-South African officials identify the food company responsible for the listeria contamination outbreak, a blizzard warning has been issued for portions of the Northern Plains, Bayonne Public Schools in New Jersey are closed following an unidentified threat on social media, and many Ireland schools remained closed as the nation digs out after getting slammed by Storm Emma.

  1. The death toll in Papua New Guinea from its major earthquake last Monday has risen to at least 67 after a week of aftershocks, including two strong tremors that occurred on Monday, just hours apart. The quakes registered 5.8 and 6.0, and struck in the southern highlands area of the nation, a region already cut off due to landslides that have blocked roadways. Officials stated that the extent of damage is still unknown in this region, and relief workers estimate that more than 125,000 people are likely in need of humanitarian aid, including food, water, and medical care.  
  2. A major avalanche shut down Mammoth Mountain, a ski resort area outside of Fresno, California on Saturday, just after 10:00 a.m. The incident occurred as a ski patrol was performing avalanche control mitigation in a closed area on the mountain.Two guests and six employees suffered minor injuries when they were caught briefly in the avalanche. Search and rescue began immediately, but after six hours, no one was found, and so far, there have been no reports of any missing persons. 
  3. A week long training hosted by the Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads and the Port of Virginia Maritime Incident Response Team concluded last Friday following classroom instruction and practical training exercises. Thursday entailed a demonstration by the Coast Guard of how they would respond to someone who went missing in the water. Some of the primary goals of the week long training exercises were to build relationships and develop partnerships to enhance cooperation and understanding during an actual search and rescue mission.  
  4. Indiana's Governor signed an executive order on Friday that added four more counties to the disaster emergency he has declared for regions of the state pummeled with torrential rains and widespread flooding. A total of 26 counties have now been included in the disaster declaration, and the state activated its Emergency Operations Center on Thursday to assist in the delivery of much needed emergency supplies including sandbags, heavy equipment, water pumps, and traffic control across the affected region. The Department of Homeland Security will open three assistance centers on Monday, March 5, in Elkhart, Jasper, and Lake counties to assist residents impacted by the flooding. 
  5. A total of 180 deaths due to poisoning from the listeria monocytogenes bacteria in South Africa have finally been traced back to a company in the northern city of Polokwane. An Enterprise Food factory that produces the cold meat polony, has been identified as the source of the contamination, and officials have ordered a recall of all polony distributed by the company. According to the United Nations, with 948 listeria cases being diagnosed since January of 2017, it may be the largest outbreak of listeria poisoning ever in the world, and it took nearly a year for the government to identify the source
  6. Another winter storm is pummeling the Northern Plains, prompting winter storm and blizzard warnings from western Montana all the way to Chicago. Snowfall amounts are predicted to be anywhere from 3 to 12 inches, with isolated areas receiving up to 18 inches of snow. The East Coast is also bracing for another Nor'easter, predicted to hit Wednesday into Thursday, although this storm is likely to be less severe than the storm that hit the along the Eastern Seaboard last week, with total accumulations predicted to be between 1 and 6 inches. 
  7. After receiving a threat via social media on Friday, all Bayonne Public Schools in Bayonne, New Jersey, were closed on Monday, March 5. The announcement came after a previous decision to keep the schools open, but post law enforcement officers at the school. The early morning announcement was made by the school's superintendent, Michael Wanko, who stated that law enforcement had yet to discredit the threat made via Twitter on Friday evening to the school, and that the school closures were "in the interest of safety." 
  8. In Ireland, a winter storm named Emma that hit beginning on Thursday, sent howling winds and dumped ice and snow across much of the nation, prompting school closures and multiple emergency calls in Dublin, including a roof collapse, a four-alarm fire, and arcing power lines. Officials warned that many areas were still hazardous for travel as of Monday morning, as ice and snow-covered roads still existed in many locations. Public transportation was disrupted over the weekend, and many schools remained closed Monday as emergency crews worked to clean up after the storm. 

Kimberly Arsenault Kimberly Arsenault serves as an intern at the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency where she works on plan revisions and special projects. Previously, Kimberly spent 15 years in commercial and business aviation. Her positions included station manager at the former Midwest Express Airlines, as well as corporate flight attendant, inflight manager, and charter flight coordinator. Kimberly currently holds a master's degree in emergency and disaster management from American Public University.