Race to rescue trapped villagers

Papua New Guinea: Many people died because of landslides

Emergency services are racing to reach villages affected by a massive landslide in Papua New Guinea’s isolated Enga province, where hundreds of people are believed to have died.

Humanitarian agency Care Australia said a rapid response team of doctors and military personnel had reached the isolated landslide site.

However, difficult terrain and damage to main roads are making rescue efforts difficult, with highways blocked and the area accessible only by helicopter.

The landslide buried hundreds of homes in the Enga highlands, north of the southwestern Pacific island nation, at around 03:00 local time on Friday (17:00 GMT on Thursday).

It is unclear how many people are trapped under the rubble.

Care Australia said 60 homes had been destroyed and “currently, all members of these households remain unidentified”.

There are nearly 4,000 people living in the area where the landslide occurred.

However, the agency warned that the number affected “could be even higher” due to the influx of people fleeing conflict in neighboring areas.

They added that other villages could also be in danger “if landslides continue down the mountain”.

Amos Akem, MP for Enga province, told the Guardian that based on reports from the ground, “the landslide buried more than 300 people and 1,182 houses”.

He said rescue efforts were hampered by a blocked road connecting the affected Yambali village and the capital.

There is only one highway into Enga province. Care Australia said the landslide created debris up to eight meters deep, affecting more than 200 square kilometers of land “including 150 meters of the main highway into Enga province”.

UN official Serhan Aktoprak told the Associated Press that the area affected by the landslide was the size of three to four football fields.

Mr. Aktoprak said some houses in the village were not affected by the landslide but “given the scale of the disaster” the death toll could reach more than 100 people.

Getty Images People gather at the site of a landslide in Maip Mulitaka in Papua New Guinea's Enga province on May 24, 2024.beautiful images
Getty Images People gather at the site of a landslide in Maip Mulitaka in Papua New Guinea's Enga province on May 24, 2024.beautiful images

Outreach to those affected has been complicated by fears of more landslides.

“The ground continues to slide and move, which makes it dangerous for people to operate,” Mr. Aktoprak told AFP news agency.

Residents from surrounding areas described trees and debris from the collapsed mountainside burying parts of the community, leaving the area isolated.

Footage from the scene showed locals pulling bodies from beneath rubble and trees as they made their way across terrain covered with giant boulders and uprooted trees.

‘No more home’

A resident of a nearby village said that when he arrived at the landslide scene, “there was no house.” [left]”.

Speaking to Australian broadcaster ABC, Dominic Lau said it was all “just flat on the ground”.

“There is nothing, just rocks and dirt… no people and no houses to see,” Mr. Lau added.

Enga Governor Peter Ipatas told AFP that up to “six villages” had been affected by the landslide, which he described as an “unprecedented natural disaster”.

Enga is more than 600 km from the country’s capital Port Moresby.

The Papua New Guinea Red Cross earlier said an emergency response team made up of officials from the provincial governor’s office, police, defense forces and local NGOs had been deployed to the area. this point.

Speaking on Friday, Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape said authorities were responding to the disaster.

He said the government was working with local officials to provide “relief work, recover bodies and rebuild infrastructure”.

In a statement, US President Joe Biden said the US is ready to support what he described as America’s “close partners and friends”.

The US has strengthened its links in the Asia Pacific region after China signed a security agreement with the Solomon Islands in 2022, allowing Beijing to deploy police and military personnel to the country.

Last year, the US signed a defense agreement with Papua New Guinea. The country is located in the south Guam, territory of the United States is an important military center in the Pacific.

Map showing Papua New Guinea and Australia

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *