Massive Landslide in Papua New Guinea: Hundreds Feared Dead

Massive Landslide in Papua New Guinea Hundreds Feared Dead

RNZ Pacific Correspondent Scott Waide confirmed reports of multiple deaths and many houses destroyed. Photo: Facebook / Amos Titus

A devastating landslide has struck the remote village of Yambali in Papua New Guinea’s Enga Province, resulting in numerous fatalities. The landslide, which hit approximately 600 kilometers northwest of Port Moresby, has buried homes and food gardens, with an estimated 3,000 people believed to be trapped under the debris.

PNG authorities have yet to confirm the official death toll. In a Facebook post, Prime Minister James Marape expressed his condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in the disaster. He stated that disaster officials, the PNG Defence Force, and the Department of Works and Highways were being dispatched to assist with relief efforts, body recovery, and infrastructure reconstruction.

The Enga Provincial administration has convened an emergency response team to assess the extent of the damage. Local health facilities and non-governmental organizations have been urged to be on standby to provide assistance. According to RNZ Pacific Correspondent Scott Waide, at least 50 houses have been destroyed, with each household consisting of roughly eight to ten people.

Residents on the ground have reported losing family members and are actively involved in retrieving bodies. Community leader Jethro Tulin told RNZ Pacific that the catastrophe has wiped out the entire village, which has a population of around 3,000. He mentioned that a team from Wabag, the provincial capital, has been sent to investigate the scene.

The ABC first reported that residents estimated “100-plus” deaths, but authorities have yet to confirm this figure. Yambali village is a two-hour drive from the Porgera Gold mine, and the landslide has blocked access to the mine, forcing operations to come to a halt. The main highway to Porgera has also been closed.

Four people have been rescued so far, but with the main highway closed, authorities have stated that it will be challenging to get heavy machinery to the village to aid in the rescue and recovery efforts. Locals are attempting to retrieve bodies but require heavy-duty equipment to remove massive rocks and debris, and they are awaiting government and NGO support.

Mick Michael, a nearby resident, stated that rescue efforts would likely shift to body recovery. He mentioned that two or three people had been discovered and that it was an entire community buried by the landslide. He estimated that 3,000 people were buried and that it would take time to recover the bodies with the help of machines and trucks. He urged the PNG government and NGOs to provide support.

Social media images depict the enormity of the landslide, with debris scattered across houses and vehicles left in the wake of falling boulders and trees.

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