Papua New Guinea landslide: Over 670 estimated dead as 150-plus houses buried

More than 670 people are assumed to have died in Papua New Guinea's massive landslide.

Livemint
Updated26 May 2024
Villagers search through a landslide in Pogera village, in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea, Sunday, May 26, 2024.
Villagers search through a landslide in Pogera village, in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea, Sunday, May 26, 2024.(AP)

Over 670 people have been estimated to have lost their lives after a massive landslide in Papua New Guinea, on Sunday.

The Kaokalam Village in Enga Province, about 600 kilometres northwest of Port Moresby, was almost completely obliterated when the landslide struck in the early hours, burying scores of homes and the people sleeping inside them.

“They are estimating that more than 670 people (are) under the soil at the moment,” Serhan Aktoprak, the chief of the UN migration agency's mission told AP.

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However, he added that the new estimated death toll was ‘not solid’ because it was based on the average size of the region's families per household.

The UN agency's representative said that there are an estimated 150-plus houses now buried. 

By Sunday evening, only five bodies and a leg of a sixth victim had been recovered.

Reuters reported that 1,250 people have been displaced and more than 250 houses nearby have been abandoned by the inhabitants, who had taken temporary shelter with their relatives and friends.

The landslide left debris up to 8 metres (25 feet) deep across 200 square km (80 square miles), cutting off road access and making relief efforts difficult, Aid group CARE Australia said.

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"Land is still sliding, rocks are falling, ground soil is cracking due to constant increased pressure and ground water is running thus the area is posing an extreme risk for everyone," Aktoprak said.

While the landslide hit a section of highway near the Porgera gold mine, the geographic remoteness and the tough, hilly terrain is slowing rescue and aid efforts.

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Bottled water, hygiene kits, clothing, kitchen utensils, food, tarpaulins are being distributed by a humanitarian convoy has started distributing

CARE Australia said that nearly 4,000 people lived in the impact zone but the number affected was probably higher as the area is "a place of refuge for those displaced by conflicts" in nearby areas, reported Reuters.

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