More than 2,000 people buried alive in landslide, Papua New Guinea govt tells UN | World News - Hindustan Times
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More than 2,000 people buried alive in landslide, Papua New Guinea govt tells UN

May 27, 2024 12:45 PM IST

The number is nearly three times the estimate of the United Nation's migration agency, which had put the estimated death toll at 670.

More than 2,000 people were buried alive in a massive landslide in Papua New Guinea on May 24, the country's government has said.

In this photo provides the International Organization for Migration, people cross over the landslide area to get to the other side in Yambali village, Papua New Guinea, Friday, May 24, 2024.(AP)
In this photo provides the International Organization for Migration, people cross over the landslide area to get to the other side in Yambali village, Papua New Guinea, Friday, May 24, 2024.(AP)

The numbers of those buried around Yambali village in Enga province in the country's north are based on estimates from local authorities.

The number is nearly three times the estimate of the United Nation's migration agency, which had put the estimated death toll at 670 on Sunday.

The National Disaster Centre raised the toll to 2,000 in a letter to the UN on Sunday, released publicly on Monday. About 1,250 people have been displaced by the landslide.

"The situation remains unstable as the landslip continues to shift slowly, posing ongoing danger to both the rescue teams and survivors alike," the letter said, according to Reuters.

Also Read | Over 60 killed in gun battles between rival tribes in Papua New Guinea

CARE International PNG country director Justine McMahon told ABC television that about 4,000 people lived near the affected area.

"The houses are buried under around eight metres (26.3 ft) of dirt. So there is quite a lot of debris to get through," said McMahon.

The unstable terrain, remote location and nearby tribal warfare have hampered rescue operations.

Visuals shared on social media show local and rescue workers scaling rocks, digging with shovels, sticks and their bare hands to find survivors. Only six bodies have been retrieved so far.

An excavator donated by a local builder Sunday was the first piece of heavy earth-moving machinery brought in to help villagers, reported the Associate Press.

Also Read | Volcanic eruption in Papua New Guinea: India announces $1 million aid

Australia on Monday said that it has prepared to send aircraft and other equipment to help at the site of the deadly landslide.

Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles said his officials have been talking with their Papua New Guinea counterparts since Friday, reported AP.

“We’ve got obviously airlift capacity to get people there. There may be other equipment that we can bring to bear in terms of the search and rescue and all of that we are talking through with PNG right now,” Marles added.

Meanwhile, tribal violence in the region has also raised security concerns for road travel, with the military escorting convoys of rescue teams. On Saturday, eight people were killed, and five shops and 30 houses burnt down in the region, according to the UN agency.

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