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Situation in Papua New Guinea ‘catastrophic’ following landslide, with 4,000 in need of aid

(ABC) -- Humanitarian organisations say urgent supplies of food, water and shelter are needed following a huge landslide in Papua New Guinea’s highlands on Friday morning.

More than 100 people are believed to have been killed in the landslide, which buried a village.(AP: Benjamin Sipa/International Organisation for Migration)

It’s estimated more than 4,000 people have been directly impacted by the disaster, which struck the remote village of Kaokalam in Enga Province.
Around 60 houses – each believed to contain up to 15 people – were flattened when the side of a mountain gave way, locals report.
The debris from the landslide is up to eight metres deep and covers a large area including 150 metres of the main highway into the province.
CARE International PNG country director Justine McMahon told the ABC the scale of the disaster was catastrophic.
“We believe that there’s at least 4,000 people directly affected,” Ms McMahon said.
“But because those communities were actually hosting people who’d been displaced because of the tribal fights, it may well be much, much larger than 4,000 people.”
In February, a massacre between warring clans saw around 50 people killed and many more forced to flee their homes.
Ms McMahon said their displacement amplified the impact of Friday’s landslide.
“Those communities were hosting people displaced from other communities, so it really multiplies the number of people affected,” she said.
“Just the scale of what’s been lost, you know, the food gardens to houses or schools or health clinics. I think the recovery will take a really coordinated effort from many actors.” Ms McMahon said the Australian government had begun mobilising supplies from Port Moresby and Brisbane and had released funds to NGOs to assist with the disaster response.
“At this point it is likely to be food, water and hygiene,” Ms McMahon said.
“DFAT is working with a whole range of partners, both in the recovery of the victims but also the repatriation of the survivors.”
She said the UNDP would deploy drones and UNICEF would supply satellite imagery to help assess the damage tomorrow.
It’s understood six bodies have been recovered from beneath rubble and wreckage, but many more remain buried – with heavy machinery required to excavate the area.


(Latest Update May 27, 2024)

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