A huge 7.6 magnitude earthquake severely hit Hela and Southern Highlands last night. Although communication networks into the two provinces have been cut off, reports through satellite communication by Hela Provincial Administrator William Bando reveal that about 10 people have been killed while thousands of properties have been destroyed. Mr Bando said it is a very severe disaster as many lives have reportedly been lost. It is believed that the earthquake started around Kiunga and affected lives and properties in Hela and Southern Highlands while other provinces also felt the effect of the quake. Mr Bando said the Komo Airport is believed to be damaged as half of the airfield has been destroyed. The PA is now meeting with the department of inter-government relations in relation to the disaster. According to new information received at (11:30am) the quakes have resulted in homes and properties being buried as the ground opened up and sank. Reports are yet to be confirmed but the situation looks severe. Furthermore, schools in both provinces and in other provinces along the fault line have suspended classes indefinitely. Oil Search Limited, the developer of Oil and gas developments in Hela and Southern Highlands said at 03.44 (PNG local time) on 26 February 2018, a magnitude 7.5 earthquake struck in the PNG Highlands. There have also been a series of aftershocks. The company said in an email that Oil Search's primary concern is the safety of their employees and contractors and that no injuries have been reported on their end as yet. Oil Search said as a precautionary measure and in order to assess any damage to facilities, Oil Search's production operations in the PNG Highlands are in the process of being shut-down. ExxonMobil PNG Ltd, the developer of the PNG LNG has also confirmed that the PNG LNG facility at Hides has also been safely shut down. ExxonMobil said all its employees and contractors at its Hides facilities have been accounted for and we are pleased to report they are all safe. "As a precaution, ExxonMobil PNG Limited has shut in its Hides Gas Conditioning Plant to assess any damages to its facilities," the management said. Meanwhile Oil Search and ExxonMobil said they are also monitoring the impact on people in the local communities and will assist the relevant authorities, where possible.