Dozens feared dead after huge landslide in Papua New Guinea

Photos show bodies being pulled from mud and debris following the disaster in a remote part of Enga province.
BenarNews staff
Dozens feared dead after huge landslide in Papua New Guinea People gather at the site of a landslide in Maip Mulitaka in Papua New Guinea's Enga Province on May 24, 2024.

Scores of people are feared dead after a landslide struck a remote highlands province in the Pacific island nation of Papua New Guinea on Friday.

Images posted to social media showed bodies being pulled from mud and debris on the slopes of Mt. Mungalo in Enga province, about 600 kilometers (372 miles) northwest of the capital Port Moresby. 

The landslide hit the village of Kaokalam about 3 a.m. and destroyed transport and communications links to the remote region, including access to the Porgera gold mine, the Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC) said on Friday. 

“It has occurred when people were still asleep in the early hours and the entire village has gone down,” Elizabeth Laruma, president of the Porgera Women in Business Association, told the ABC.

“From what I can presume, it’s about 100-plus people who are buried beneath the ground.”

Local authorities have not yet confirmed the figures, but provincial governor Peter Ipatas told AFP news agency that “more than six villages” had been hit, describing the scene as an “unprecedented natural disaster.”

Prime Minister James Marape extended his condolences to the victims' families and said rescue efforts were underway. 

“We are sending in disaster officials, the PNG Defence Force and the Department of Works and Highways to meet provincial and district officials in Enga and also start relief work, recovery of bodies and reconstruction of infrastructure,” he said in a statement. 

The island of New Guinea is located on the “Ring of Fire” – a belt of volcanoes and seismic activity around the edges of the Pacific Ocean – and lies where the Australian and Pacific tectonic plates meet in what is known as the Papuan Fold. 

At least 160 people died in an earthquake in 2018 in neighboring Hela Province that also caused major infrastructure damage.


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