More than 4000 affected by PNG landslide: aid group

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The landslide in PNG has buried more than 300 people and over 1100 houses, DFAT says.
The landslide in PNG has buried more than 300 people and over 1100 houses, DFAT says.

More than 4000 people are likely affected by a massive landslide that flattened a village in northern Papua New Guinea, humanitarian group CARE Australia says.

Hundreds are feared dead in the landslide in the Pacific nation north of Australia that levelled Kaokalam village in Enga Province, about 600km northwest of capital Port Moresby, on Friday.

According to Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), more than six villages have been impacted by the landslide in the province’s Mulitaka region, which local media said buried more than 300 people and over 1100 houses.

CARE Australia said lthat nearly 4000 people lived in the impact zone, with the total number of those affected probably higher as the area was “a place of refuge for those displaced by conflicts” in nearby areas.

In February, at least 26 men were killed in Enga Province in an ambush amid tribal violence that prompted Prime Minister James Marape to give arrest powers to the country’s military.

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape
PNG PM James Marape Marape says disaster officials and defence are assisting with recovery efforts. (Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS)

CARE said Friday’s landslide has left debris up to eight metres deep across 200 square kilometres, cutting off road access, which was making relief efforts difficult.

Helicopters were the only way to reach the area, according to the ABC, which reported on Saturday that four bodies had been retrieved from rubble.

“More homes could be at risk if the landslide continues down the mountain,” a CARE spokesperson said in a statement.

Marape said disaster officials, the Defence Force and the Department of Works and Highways were assisting with relief and recovery efforts.

Social media footage posted by villager Ninga Role showed people clambering over rocks, uprooted trees and mounds of dirt searching for survivors. Women could be heard weeping in the background.

Reuters