News Brief

Papua New Guinea Disaster: Landslide Devastates Remote Village, Over 2,000 Buried In Debris

Bhuvan Krishna

May 27, 2024, 04:36 PM | Updated 04:36 PM IST

Massive landslide in Papua New Guinea. (Representative image)
Massive landslide in Papua New Guinea. (Representative image)

On Monday (27 May), Papua New Guinea informed the United Nations that a massive landslide had buried over 2,000 people in a remote village.

The country’s national disaster centre has reported significant destruction and fatalities to the UN office in Port Moresby, as per a report by The New Indian Express.

The landslide wreaked havoc on buildings and food gardens, severely impacting the country's economic lifeline. This disaster has resulted in an estimated death toll of over 670 people.

A once-thriving hillside village in Enga province was almost completely destroyed when a portion of Mount Mungalo collapsed early on Friday morning, burying homes and their sleeping occupants.

The ongoing instability of the landslip continues to pose dangers to rescue teams and survivors.

The disaster's scale demands "immediate and collaborative actions from all players," including the military and regional responders.

In a letter to UN, Papua New Guinea has requested it to notify its development partners and international allies about the situation and to coordinate assistance through the disaster centre.

Local residents and rescue teams have been using makeshift tools to recover bodies from the landslide, up to 26 feet deep in some areas.

UN's migration agency official, Serhan Aktoprak has warned of the continuing risk as the landmass remains unstable with streams of water and cracks appearing in the adjacent land.

Heavy rains in recent weeks, possibly exacerbated by climate change, may have triggered the landslide.

The estimated death toll has been rising as officials reassess the affected population, spanning an area nearly as large as four football fields. Five bodies and part of a sixth had been recovered by Saturday night.

Over 1,000 people have been displaced by the landslide, and an outbreak of unrelated tribal fighting has hindered humanitarian aid efforts.

Efforts to bring in heavy machinery for rescue operations were delayed due to the tribal conflict.

The village, located on the side of Mount Mungalo, had a transient population that could exceed 4,000 people, serving as a trading post for gold miners. Since the beginning of the year, Papua New Guinea has faced multiple natural disasters, including earthquakes, floods, and landslides, stretching the resources of emergency services thin.

Bhuvan Krishna is Staff Writer at Swarajya.

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