June 25, 2024

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Three bodies have been recovered after a landslide in Papua New Guinea, with a high death toll expected

Three bodies have been recovered after a landslide in Papua New Guinea, with a high death toll expected

AFP/Getty Images

People gather at the site of a landslide in Maipe Mulitaka in Inga Province, Papua New Guinea on May 24, 2024.



CNN

Three bodies have been recovered after a landslide in Papua New Guinea, local officials told CNN on Saturday, adding that the death toll was likely to rise to a “significant” total.

The disaster Hit the remote village of Kawkalamabout 600 kilometers (372 miles) northwest of the capital, Port Moresby, at about 3 a.m. local time on Friday, leaving a debris scar that relief workers say is the size of four football fields.

Three bodies have been recovered so far, but “we expect the number to be large,” Inga District Regional Director Sandis Tsaka told CNN.

More than 100 people are believed to have died, Janet Philemon, acting and national treasurer of the Papua New Guinea Red Cross Society, previously told CNN.

Tsaka said on Saturday that the landslides affected about 3,900 people, including three main villages, and about 60 homes were completely destroyed.

Emergency responders were deployed to the site, but rescue efforts were hampered by damage to the main highway, limiting access to the affected areas, according to Tsaka.

“The impact area is huge, 150 meters of road is gone and the landslide area is very active – with moving debris and boulders – making it difficult for our first responders,” he said, adding that the debris is about 6 to 8 inches. meters (about 20 to 26 feet).

Humanitarian organization CARE Australia said the obstacle was “likely to take a long time to clear”.

She added: “Although the area is not densely populated, what worries us is that the death toll may be disproportionately high.”

Sirhan Oktoberak, head of the International Organization for Migration’s mission in the country, described the scale of the humanitarian disaster.

“Children are being separated from their mothers and fathers. Relatives are trying to find the missing people. This… does not help much because people are still in shock,” he told CNN.

“Every minute that passes reduces our hopes and increases our frustrations.”

A Pacific country home to about 10 million people, Papua New Guinea Rich in resources. But its economy has long lagged behind that of its neighbors, and it suffers from one of the highest crime rates in the world.

Hundreds of tribes are spread throughout the country, which is remote and often difficult to access. But the vast and diverse mountainous landscape, as well as the lack of roads, have made it difficult and expensive to improve basic services such as water, electricity and sanitation.