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Three bodies recovered after Papua New Guinea landslide, ‘significant’ death toll expected

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People gather at the site of a landslide in Maip Mulitaka, Enga province, Papua New Guinea, May 24, 2024.



CNN

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

The disaster struck the remote village of Kaokalam, about 600 kilometers (372 miles) northwest of the capital Port Moresby, around 3 a.m. local time on Friday, leaving a scar of debris that humanitarians say is as big as four football fields.

Three bodies have been found so far, but “we expect the number to be significant,” Sandis Tsaka, provincial administrator of Enga province, told CNN.

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

Tsaka said on Saturday that the landslides had affected around 3,900 people, including three large villages, and that around 60 houses were “completely destroyed”.

Emergency services were deployed to the site, but relief efforts were hampered by damage to a main highway, which limited 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 – moving debris and rocks – making it difficult for our first responders,” he said , adding that there were approximately 6 to 8 pieces of debris. meters (about 20 to 26 feet) deep.

Andrew Ruing/Reuters

People carry bags following a landslide in Enga province, Papua New Guinea, May 24, 2024.

Humanitarian group CARE Australia said the obstruction “is likely to take a long time to clear”.

“Although the area is not densely populated, we are concerned that the death toll may be disproportionate,” he said.

Serhan Aktoprak, head of mission of the International Organization for Migration in the country, described the scale of the human catastrophe.

“Children are separated from their mothers and fathers. Relatives try to find their missing. It doesn’t help much because people are still in shock,” he told CNN.

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

A Pacific nation home to around 10 million people, Papua New Guinea is rich in resources. But its economy has long lagged behind those of its neighbors and its crime rate is one of the highest in the world.

Hundreds of tribes are spread across the country’s remote and often inaccessible territories. But its vast and diverse mountainous landscape, as well as a lack of roads, have made it difficult and costly to upgrade basic services like water, electricity and sanitation.

News Source : amp.cnn.com
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