Massive Landslide Claims Hundreds of Lives in Papua New Guinea

Sun May 26 2024
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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea: A devastating landslide in Papua New Guinea has left more than 670 people presumed dead, according to UN migration agency official Serhan Aktoprak.

The catastrophe, which occurred in Enga province, buried over 150 houses and displaced over 1,000 individuals.

The landslide struck the hillside village in the early hours of Friday morning, catching residents unaware as they slept. Rescue efforts are underway despite perilous conditions, with aid workers and villagers using basic tools like digging sticks and spades to recover bodies buried under the soil.

Initially feared to have claimed between 100 to 300 lives, the death toll rose as it became apparent that more people lived in the village than initially estimated. The village, once home to over 4,000 individuals, served as a trading post for gold miners in the highlands region.

The disaster has not only resulted in significant loss of life but has also displaced many, with food gardens and water supplies nearly wiped out. Efforts to deliver aid face challenges, with tribal fighting erupting along the only remaining route into the disaster zone. However, Papua New Guinea’s military is providing security escorts to ensure safe passage for aid convoys.

The landslide, likely triggered by heavy rains saturating the region, has created treacherous conditions, with debris piles reaching up to eight meters deep. Rescue workers are navigating through car-sized boulders and uprooted trees in their search for survivors.

Images from the scene depict the grim reality of the aftermath, with workers laboring barefoot to clear debris and recover bodies. The arrival of heavy machinery is anticipated to aid in the ongoing rescue and recovery efforts.

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