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Papua New Guinea: 4 dead, over 300 people and 1,100 houses buried in massive landslide | VIDEO

The devastating landslide hit Kaokalam village in Papua New Guinea's Enga province at 3 am (local time) and the death count is expected to be higher. The landslide has impeded relief and recovery efforts by blocking access to highways, making helicopters the only way to reach the affected area.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Sydney Updated on: May 25, 2024 12:06 IST
Papua New Guinea landslide
Image Source : REUTERS Aftermath of the landslide in Papua New Guinea

Sydney: More than 300 people and 1,100 houses were buried in a massive landslide that levelled a remote village in northern Papua New Guinea, local media reported on Saturday. The landslide hit Kaokalam village in Enga province, about 600 km (370 miles) northwest of the capital, Port Moresby, at roughly 3 am on Friday, as per reports.

The Papua New Guinea Post Courier said the landslide in the South Pacific island nation north of Australia buried more than 300 people and 1,182 houses, citing comments from a member of the country's parliament, Aimos Akem, with the death toll expected to rise. More than six villages had been impacted by the landslide in the province's Mulitaka region, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) said on Saturday.

"Australia’s High Commission in Port Moresby is in close contact with PNG authorities for further assessments on the extent of the damage and casualties," a DFAT spokesperson said in a statement. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Saturday reported that four bodies have been recovered from the sparsely populated area by emergency teams.

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The landslide has blocked highway access, making helicopters the only way to reach the area, the broadcaster reported. Social media footage posted by villager Ninga Role showed people clambering over rocks, uprooted trees and mounds of dirt searching for survivors. Women could be heard weeping in the background.

Men were digging through soil, with large rocks and boulders seen falling from a mountain nearby. Upturned cars and damaged informal structures were also visible. Drone footage filmed on Friday showed the extent of the damage with people seen searching for bodies.

Emergency response in effect

Prime Minister James Marape said authorities were responding and he would release information about the destruction and loss of life when it was available. “I am yet to be fully briefed on the situation. However, I extend my heartfelt condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in the landslide disaster in the early hours of this morning,” Marape said in a statement on Friday.

Australia, a near neighbour and Papua New Guinea's most generous provider of foreign aid, said the government stood ready to help. “We send our heartfelt sympathies to the people of PNG following the landslide at Kaokalam village,” Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong posted on social media. “The loss of life and destruction is devastating,” she added. “As friends and partners, Australia stands ready to assist in relief and recovery efforts.”

With 10 million people, it is also the most populous South Pacific nation after Australia, which is home to some 27 million. Telecommunications are poor, particularly outside Port Moresby where government data show 56 per cent of the nation's social media users reside. Only 1.66 million people across the country use the internet and 85 per cent of the population lives in rural areas.

(with inputs from agencies)

ALSO READ | Over 100 feared dead by landslide in Papua New Guinea, emergency response underway: Report


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