Over 670 people dead in Papua New Guinea landslide

More than 1,000 people have been displaced by the calamity


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Photo for illustrative purposes
Photo for illustrative purposes

Published: Fri 24 May 2024, 9:32 AM

Last updated: Sun 26 May 2024, 1:23 PM

More than 670 people are believed to have died after a massive landslide in Papua New Guinea, a UN official said on Sunday, May 26.

Aid workers and villagers are searching for survivors of the landslide that hit Kaokalam village in Enga Province, about 600 km northwest of capital Port Moresby, around 3am on Friday.

"There are an estimated 150-plus houses now buried" said UN migration agency official Serhan Aktoprak, adding that "670-plus people are assumed dead".

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"The situation is terrible with the land still sliding. The water is running and this is creating a massive risk for eveyrone involved," added Aktoprak, who is based in Port Moresby.

More than 1,000 people have been displaced by the catastrophe, he added, with food gardens and water supplies almost completely wiped out.

Aid agencies and local leaders initially feared between 100 and 300 people may have perished in the disaster.

The death toll was revised up as disaster workers on the ground realised more people were living in the village than initially estimated, according to Aktoprak

The village was home to more than 4,000 people, serving as a trading post for alluvial miners who panned for the gold in the highlands region.

Five bodies had been pulled from the debris by Saturday night.

At some points, the landslide -- a mix of car-sized boulders, uprooted trees and churned-up earth -- was thought to be eight metres (26 feet) deep.

Locals said the landslide may have been triggered by heavy rains that have saturated the region in recent weeks.


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