Over 300 perish as landslide buries village in Papua New Guinea

Published May 26, 2024
VILLAGERS walk along the scene of a landslide that struck Papua New Guinea’s Enga province three days ago.—AFP
VILLAGERS walk along the scene of a landslide that struck Papua New Guinea’s Enga province three days ago.—AFP

SYDNEY: More than 300 people and over 1,100 houses were buried by a massive landslide that levelled a remote village in northern Papua New Guinea, local media reported on Saturday.

Hundreds are feared dead in the landslide that hit Kaokalam village in Enga Province, about 600 km northwest of capital Port Moresby, around 3am on Friday (1900 GMT on Thursday).

The landslide in the Pacific nation north of Australia buried more than 300 people and 1,182 houses, the Papua New Guinea Post Courier said, citing comments from a member of the country’s parliament, Aimos Akem.

The Australian Broad­cas­­ting Corp reported on Saturday that four bodies had been retrieved from the area after emergency teams reached the sparsely populated area, where the death toll is expected to rise.

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.

Television images showed a scene of total devastation, with a vast bite of earth cleaved from densely vegetated Mount Mungalo.

Barefoot workers used shovels, axes and improvised tools to loosen and shift the earth, while others picked through mangled piles of corrugated iron that once provided shelter.

Published in Dawn, May 26th, 2024

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