Home News Hundreds feared dead in Papua New Guinea landslide

Hundreds feared dead in Papua New Guinea landslide

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A massive landslide in rural Papua New Guinea on Saturday buried a village, killed at least three people and complicated search and rescue efforts by unstable rubble and debris, with local officials saying the death toll could be at least in the hundreds.

The three villages have a total of nearly 4,000 residents. Swallowed by landslide Enga province, where the affected area is located, was engulfed in mudslides on Friday morning, said Sandis Tsaka, the provincial administrator. He said the death toll could be high because the landslide hit a densely populated area and the area is heavily trafficked.

“Our people will see this as a disaster without precedent,” he said. “We are seeking all possible help and support to deal with this unprecedented humanitarian disaster in the region.”

According to Mr. Tsaka, three bodies were pulled from the rubble on Friday and five injured, including a child, were being treated.

The landslide struck at about 3 a.m., catching most residents off guard and sending huge boulders, some larger than shipping containers, tumbling down. Mr. Tsaka said the landslide buried at least 60 houses under 20 feet of rubble. At least one house was buried under He said a 500-foot stretch of Bogra Highway, the main arterial road connecting the area, was submerged by the landslide.

The villages, inhabited by mostly subsistence farmers, are located in the highlands of Papua New Guinea, an island nation in the Pacific Ocean north of Australia.

Mr. Chaka said the area was prone to small landslides. The weather has remained wet in recent months.

Heavy rains are forecast to continue to hit the region in the coming days, further hampering rescue efforts. According to Mr. Tsaka, international organizations and the country’s defense forces are rushing to the scene to help.

Vincent Piatti, president of the local community development association, said the area was a transportation hub and many people came from remote areas. Overnight bus rides were a popular mode of transport and tolls might also be increased. He said there was also a drinking club popular with people across the borough.

Mr. Piatti said it was estimated that at least 300 people had been killed.

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