UN worries that a landslide in Papua has buried 670 people

A massive landslide in Papua New Guinea has left around 670 people buried, according to the head of the International Organization for Migration in the country, Serhan Aktoprak. The landslide occurred in the Enga province, which is located in the north of the island nation in the south-west Pacific. Rescuers are at risk due to the ongoing land sliding and falling rocks, as well as the water running through the area. Local residents have been forced to abandon 250 homes in areas not directly affected by the landslide.

At least 1,000 people have been displaced as a result of the disaster. Gardens that had grown food and water supplies were almost completely wiped out. The landslide occurred at around 03:00 local time on Friday, when people were more likely to be sleeping. The exact number of fatalities from the landslide remains unknown, but the time of the landslide suggests that the death toll will rise.

By Sunday, just five bodies had been recovered alongside the partial remains of another. Challenges faced by teams trying to recover bodies include reluctance by grieving relatives to let heavy machinery near their loved ones. Debris from the landslide, including boulders, trees, and displaced soil, is up to 8m deep in some areas. Tribal violence along the main road could complicate relief efforts.

Local communities have started distributing food and water to those affected by the landslide. Provincial authorities will deploy aid including food, water, and hygiene products from Monday. The International Organization for Migration is providing non-food items such as blankets, bedding, and mattresses. As of Sunday, the National Disaster Centre, part of the Papua New Guinea government, had not requested help from other countries.


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