Over 300 buried as landslide hits Papua New Guinea, rescue ops underway

The death toll likely to rise: Officials

Papua New Guinea landslide In this photo provided by the International Organization for Migration, people cross over the landslide area to get to the other side in Yambali village, Papua New Guinea | AP

A massive landslide had swept the remote village in northern Papua New Guinea with over 300 people trapped under the rubbles on Saturday.  

Hundreds are feared dead in the landslide that hit Kaokalam village in Enga Province, about 600 km (370 miles) northwest of the capital Port Moresby on Friday. 

According to Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), more than six villages had been impacted by the landslide in the province's Mulitaka region. 

"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.

Prime Minister James Marape has said that rescue and relief works were being carried out in the landslide-affected areas. Disaster officials, the Defence Force and the Department of Works and Highways were jointly assisting with relief and recovery efforts. 

Initially, the government officials said that around 100 people were killed in the landslide, while the local media reported the death toll at 300. Later, Serhan Aktoprak, the chief of the International Organization for Migration's mission in the South Pacific island nation said that the death toll could be higher. 

Only three bodies had been recovered by early Saturday from the vast swath of earth, boulders and splintered trees that struck Yambali, a village of nearly 4,000 people that is 600 kilometres (370 miles) northwest of the capital, Port Moresby.

The relief effort was delayed by the landslide closing the province's main highway, which serves the Porgera Gold Mine and the neighbouring town of Porgera. 

(With PTI inputs) 


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