Massive Landslide Buries Over 2,000 in Papua New Guinea

Rescue Efforts Hindered by Treacherous Terrain

1 min read
This photo taken with a mobile photo shows a scene near a landslide in Enga province, Papua New Guinea, May 24, 2024. (Xinhua)

Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea: More than 2,000 people were buried alive by a massive landslide in Papua New Guinea last week, the National Disaster Center confirmed today. The catastrophic event has left rescuers grappling with treacherous terrain and mounting difficulties in delivering aid, raising fears of finding only a few survivors.

Local authorities have been updating the grim toll from the landslide, which struck Yambali village in Enga province on May 24. Initially reported figures have continuously increased, culminating in today’s official count of over 2,000 victims buried beneath the debris. The National Disaster Center’s latest revision also highlighted extensive damage to buildings and food gardens in the region.

“The situation remains unstable as the landslip continues to shift slowly, posing an ongoing danger to both the rescue teams and survivors alike,” the center stated in a letter to the United Nations dated May 25, which was released publicly today.

Footage circulating on social media and local news outlets shows desperate villagers climbing over rocks, uprooted trees, and mounds of dirt in a frantic search for survivors. The harrowing scenes are underscored by the sound of women weeping in the background.

The UN migration agency in Papua New Guinea reported that both residents and rescue teams face extreme danger due to continuous water flow beneath the debris. Serhan Aktoprak, the agency’s chief, told ABC television that emergency crews would persist in their search efforts until local residents decided to cease operations. He noted that the team currently has eight vehicles and hopes to secure additional resources soon.

A UN official disclosed that the first excavator, manned by emergency crews and Papua New Guinea’s defense personnel, only reached the disaster site late on May 26, despite their earlier arrival on the ground.

In a rare moment of hope, local media reported today that residents had successfully rescued a couple trapped under rubble after hearing their cries for help.

CARE Australia revealed that nearly 4,000 people lived in the impact zone of the landslide. However, the actual number of those affected could be higher, as the area serves as a refuge for individuals displaced by nearby conflicts.

Residents believe that the landslide was triggered by the heavy rainfall that had soaked the area over the past few weeks, exacerbating the unstable conditions.

As rescue efforts continue amidst the perilous landscape, the nation watches anxiously, hoping for more miracles but preparing for the worst.

Sri Lanka Guardian

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