Papua New Guinea Landslide: Rescuers Search Rubble After Over 300 People And 1000 Houses Buried

(MENAFN- AsiaNet News) A remote village in northern Papua New Guinea, Kaokalam, was devastated by a massive landslide, according to local media reports on Saturday. Engulfing more than 300 individuals and 1,100 houses, the landslide struck around 3 am on Friday, approximately 600 km (370 miles) northwest of the capital, port Moresby.

The Papua New Guinea Post Courier, citing remarks from parliament member Aimos Akem, stated that the death toll is anticipated to rise. The landslide, impacting over six villages in the Mulitaka region of Enga province, has drawn attention from Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), underscoring the severity of the situation.

"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.

According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's report on Saturday, emergency teams have recovered four bodies from the sparsely populated area affected by the landslide. The blockade of highway access has rendered helicopters the sole means of reaching the site, as per the broadcaster's account.

Footage shared on social media by villager Ninga Role depicts individuals navigating through debris, including rocks, uprooted trees, and piles of earth, in search of survivors. The background audio captures the sorrowful cries of women.

Men can be observed excavating through soil, while rocks and boulders tumble down from a nearby mountain. The scene also reveals overturned vehicles and damaged makeshift structures. Drone footage captured on Friday provides a visual testament to the extensive devastation, as people scour the area for bodies.

Prime Minister James Marape assured that authorities were actively engaged in responding to the disaster, and he pledged to provide updates on the extent of the destruction and loss of life as soon as information became accessible.

“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, as a close neighbor and the most significant provider of foreign aid to Papua New Guinea, expressed readiness to extend assistance in the aftermath of the landslide. Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong conveyed heartfelt sympathies to the people of PNG via social media, acknowledging the profound devastation caused by the tragedy. She affirmed Australia's commitment as a friend and partner to support relief and recovery efforts.

Papua New Guinea, with a population of 10 million, ranks as the most populous South Pacific nation after Australia, which boasts a population of approximately 27 million. Telecommunications infrastructure remains inadequate, particularly outside the capital, Port Moresby, where government data indicates that 56 percent of the nation's social media users are located. Internet penetration is limited, with only 1.66 million individuals across the country having access, and 85 percent of the population residing in rural areas.


AsiaNet News

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