Papua New Guinea: more than 2,000 people buried in landslide

“In the debris field of mud and rocks, there were no signs of life.” THE Post MailPapua New Guinea’s main daily newspaper, reports the story of a father who became a national hero after he lost his life trying to save his children, following the impressive landslide that hit the province of Enga, on the highlands. Papuan plateau plateaus, in the center of the country. The newspaper continues:

“Both parents heard a rushing noise, as the mountainside shattered and the ground shook. They managed to get out, but when the father heard his children crying, he rushed to help them. He was buried under debris.”

A major landslide hit the province of Enga on the night of May 23-24.
A major landslide hit the province of Enga on the night of May 23-24. INTERNATIONAL MAIL

A whole section of Mount Yambali collapsed on Friday May 24 in the early morning, around 3 a.m., covering dozens of houses and surprising the inhabitants of several villages in their sleep. Taken up by the channel’s website Al Jazeera, the most recent toll established by the United Nations shows at least 670 deaths. But, correct it Post Mail, “2,000 of the 3,000 inhabitants of the village of Tulipana (the worst affected) are missing, and it is widely feared that they may also have died under the rubble.”

This gap, specifies the South China Morning Post, “is explained by the remoteness of the site and the difficulty of obtaining a precise estimate of the population. PNG’s last credible census was in 2000 and many people live in isolated mountain villages.”


This isolation of the site complicates the race against time to deliver help and further reduces the chances of finding survivors. Al Jazeera collected the testimony of Serhan Aktoprak, the head of the United Nations mission in Port Moresby, the country’s capital:

“The situation is terrible, the earth continues to slide. The water continues to flow and this creates enormous risks for everyone present.”

Villagers use spades, sticks and their bare hands to try to move debris and reach possible survivors, the report said. South China Morning Post. “Eighteen members of my family are buried here, under this debris on which I am standingtestifies Evit Kambu, a villager. But I can’t collect the bodies, so I stay here helpless.”

In addition to the distance, the delivery of excavators and other excavation machines was delayed, the Hong Kong newspaper continued, by tribal clashes in the region which forced aid workers to travel in convoys escorted by soldiers.

Papua New Guinea experiences one of the wettest climates in the world, with heavy rainfall hitting its highlands, says Al Jazeera. But changing rainfall patterns due to climate change significantly increases the risk of landslides in the country. In March, a similar disaster in a neighboring province had already left at least 23 dead.

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