UN raises toll in Papua New Guinea landslide to 670, thousands displaced | World News - Hindustan Times
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UN raises toll in Papua New Guinea landslide to 670, thousands displaced

May 26, 2024 02:57 PM IST

Papua New Guinea landslide: Local officials had initially put the toll at 100 or more on Friday.

Papua New Guinea landslide: More than 670 people are now believed to have died after a massive landslide in Yambali village in Enga province of Papua New Guinea on Friday, news agency AFP has reported, citing a UN official.

Villagers search through a landslide in Pogera village, in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea, Sunday, May 26, 2024.(AP)
Villagers search through a landslide in Pogera village, in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea, Sunday, May 26, 2024.(AP)

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

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

Local officials had initially put the toll at 100 or more on Friday. Only five bodies and a leg of a sixth victim had been recovered by Sunday.

Aktoprak further told AFP that more than 1,000 people had been displaced from the once-bustling village. The landslide has almost completely wiped out food gardens and water supplies.

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“People are using digging sticks, spades, large agricultural forks to remove the bodies buried under the soil.”

People carry bags in the aftermath of a landslide in Enga Province, Papua New Guinea, May 24, 2024.(Reuters)
People carry bags in the aftermath of a landslide in Enga Province, Papua New Guinea, May 24, 2024.(Reuters)

He also said that rescue crews have given up hope of finding any survivors under the rubble, which is 6 to 8 meters (20 to 26 feet) deep, Aktoprak said, according to AP.

“People are coming to terms with this so there is a serious level of grieving and mourning,” he said.

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Emergency responders began moving survivors to safer ground on Sunday as tons of unstable earth and tribal warfare, which is rife in the country's Highlands, threatened the rescue effort, reported AP.

Justine McMahon, country director of the humanitarian agency CARE International, told AP that moving survivors to “more stable ground” was an immediate priority along with providing them with food, water and shelter.

“There will be some support, but it's such a spread-out area that I think it will be quite a challenging situation,” McMahon said. “The scale of this disaster is quite immense.”

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