Natural Disasters

United Nations Confirms Over 670 Presumed Dead in Papua New Guinea Landslide

Main image to the post United Nations Confirms Over 670 Presumed Dead in Papua New Guinea Landslide

The International Organization for Migration's Chief of Mission in Papua New Guinea, Serhan Aktoprak, has stated that more than 670 individuals are believed to have lost their lives due to a landslide in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. The disaster, which occurred in Enga province, has resulted in the potential burial of over 150 houses under debris several meters deep, prompting the evacuation of approximately 1,250 survivors from the area. The terrain surrounding the disaster zone remains hazardous, as ongoing rockfalls and sliding land have made the situation perilous for both residents and rescuers.

Rescue workers, including locals using shovels and bare hands, are tirelessly searching for potential survivors buried under the rubble and rock left by the landslide. However, only a few bodies have been recovered so far, indicating the monumental task ahead in recovering those who perished. The destruction of homes, health centers, and vital infrastructure has compounded the long-term impacts of the disaster, leaving many communities devastated and facing immense challenges in rebuilding their lives and livelihoods.

The recovery efforts face various obstacles, including the threat of loose soil destabilizing other homes, blocked roads hindering access for excavators, and complicated search and rescue operations due to the difficult terrain and remote location. Convoys carrying essential supplies to the affected village are being carefully coordinated, with security concerns and limited daylight hours adding to the operational complexity. Moreover, a separate dispute between clans along the route to the disaster area has led to further violence and destruction, jeopardizing the safety of aid convoys and humanitarian personnel.

In the midst of this tragic event, political tensions within Papua New Guinea add another layer of complexity, with the government facing internal challenges as opposition party defections have put pressure on Prime Minister James Marape's leadership. Despite these political distractions, the focus remains on the recovery efforts following the landslide, with search and rescue operations expected to continue for days or even weeks as authorities navigate the difficult terrain and logistical challenges to assist the affected communities in their time of need.

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May 21, 2023 | 05:09