Hundreds Feared Dead In Horrific Papua New Guinea Landslide

A devastating landslide is feared to have claimed the lives of hundreds in remote villages of Papua New Guinea, according to local officials and aid agencies.

The landslide buried over 100 homes when it struck at approximately 03:00 local time on Friday (17:00 GMT Thursday) in the highlands of Enga, located in the northern region of the island nation in the south-west Pacific. The number of people trapped in the rubble remains unknown.

Enga governor Peter Ipatas told AFP news agency it was an “unprecedented natural disaster”.
Andrew Ruing, a community leader, told Reuters news agency that people had been asleep when the landslide struck. “More than 300 lives have been covered by the debris and rocks,” he said.
“Food, gardens, the people, the properties worth more than millions have been lost, covered by all these things,” he added.

Business leader Elizabeth Iarume told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that “the entire village had gone down.”
Villager Ninga Role also said he believed hundreds had died. The scale of the landslide was also making it hard to rescue any survivors, he said.
“The area covered by the landslide is large and there are rocks and trees everywhere,” Role told Reuters by phone. “It’s very difficult to get them out.”

Humanitarian organisation Care Australia said in a statement: “While the area is not densely populated, our concern is that the death toll could be disproportionately high.”
Clearing road will take a long time and “this will hinder assessment and relief efforts”, it said.

Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister James Marape said disaster officials had been sent to the site to “start relief work, recovery of bodies, and reconstruction of infrastructure”.

Videos depict villagers frantically scrambling over rocks to reach those buried. In a video posted by Facebook user Kindupan Kambii from Kaokalam village in Enga, people can be heard crying and yelling.

The Papua New Guinea Red Cross Society reported that an emergency response team, composed of officials from the provincial governor’s office, police, defense forces, and local NGOs, has been deployed to the site. Enga is located more than 600 km (372 miles) by road from the nation’s capital, Port Moresby.

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