• en

Thousands At Risk Due To Ongoing Movement Of Debris From Papua New Guinea Landslide

Ongoing debris movement in Papua New Guinea has prompted potential evacuation alerts as thousands of people risk getting harmed.

Almost 7,900 individuals residing near a location where a fatal landslide occurred in Papua New Guinea have sparked concern among authorities, who noted ongoing movement of rocks and debris down the hillside.
A provincial official emphasised the continued high activity of the mountain. An alert has been issued for potential evacuation.

Rescue efforts suggest that the chances of finding survivors amidst the rubble are diminishing.

Approximately 2,000 people have  been estimated by the country’s disaster agency to have been buried in the mountain collapse last Friday, a figure significantly higher than the UN’s estimate of around 670 casualties.

According to the UN, difficulties in accessing the site and reaching those trapped under the debris have complicated efforts to determine an exact death toll.

Various UN officials have indicated that the search and recovery mission has transitioned into primarily retrieving bodies due to numerous complications.

Niels Kraaier from Unicef Papua New Guinea said, “It is not a rescue mission, it is a recovery mission. It is very unlikely they will have survived.”
Local authorities reported that only six bodies had been found by Tuesday.

Villagers have been relying on basic tools like shovels and sticks, as well as their hands, to clear away large rocks and debris due to delays in heavy machinery arrival and cultural concerns about using excavators near the deceased.

The area remains perilous with ongoing rock falls, as captured in videos showing rocks cascading down the mountain during daylight hours.

Sandis Tsaka, Enga Provincial Administrator stated, “It’s still very active. The mountain is breaking up.”

He added, “There’s continuous movement of rock and debris which is making our search and rescue and recovery operations a challenge.”

In certain areas, the rubble persists at a depth of 10 meters, with the mass of debris continuing to slide down the hillside. Authorities have consequently warned nearby communities of the danger and have issued evacuation notices.

Tsaka noted that “because of the landslide, the impact area of the landslide is gradually increasing. So the homes and properties that were not affected by the original landslide area are growing every day.”

A village near the Initially impacted Yambali village is now facing a similar threat.

Concern is mounting regarding the potential for infection and disease as the bodies trapped under the debris begin to decompose.

 The UN has cautioned that there was currents flowing beneath the rubble downhill.

UN migration agency official, Serhan Aktoprak, on Tuesday said, “The water that is stuck between the ground and the debris is flowing  and the bodies are starting to decay. Can you image (the impact) on more than 2,000 bodies buried under this land- unable to be removed.”

In the midst of perilous circumstances, humanitarian organizations are prioritizing the immediate distribution of essential supplies such as food, water, and hygiene kits to residents.

 However, several obstacles hinder these efforts, including the blockade and damage to the highway leading to the village caused by the landslide.

 Additionally, on Tuesday, a bridge connecting province centers Hagen and Wabeg, south of the landslide area, collapsed, further complicating relief efforts for humanitarian groups.

Australia has committed to airlifting supplies, anticipated to arrive on Wednesday.

About 3,800 people have been estimated by local authorities to have inhabited the hillside village before the landslide, which occurred around 03:00 on Friday morning, flattening over 150 homes.

 The collapse of the mountain has been attributed to weeks of heavy rainfall and other wet conditions in the region.

Prime Minister, James Marape, extended his condolences and directed national response teams to the affected area earlier in the week.

 The disaster coincides with political pressure on Marape, as parliament was scheduled to vote on a no-confidence motion against him on Tuesday.

Follow us on: