Landslide in Papua New Guinea claims over 670 lives

Locals look into a demolished house at the site of a landslide at Yambali Village in the region of Maip Mulitaka, in Papua New Guinea's Enga Province on May 25, 2024. PhotoL AFP

Over 670 people are feared dead following a devastating landslide in Papua New Guinea, according to a UN official cited by AFP on Sunday.

The catastrophic incident occurred in Enga province, where a once-thriving hillside village was nearly wiped out by the landslide that struck in the early hours of Friday.

UN representative Serhan Aktoprak reported that more than 150 houses have been buried under the debris, leading to the assumption that over 670 individuals have lost their lives.

The situation remains dire as the unstable terrain continues to pose a severe risk to rescue efforts.

Despite challenging conditions such as damaged roads and ongoing tribal conflicts in the region, aid workers and villagers are persisting in their search for survivors using basic tools like shovels and axes.

Omer Mohamud, a disaster worker on the ground, described the scene as “horrible” and noted that the land is still prone to sliding, adding to the peril.

The disaster has displaced over 1,000 individuals, with food sources and water systems being severely impacted.

Initially believed to have claimed between 100 to 300 lives, the death toll has risen as authorities realized the actual population in the affected area was higher than previously estimated.

As recovery efforts intensify with the aid of heavy machinery, the death toll is expected to climb further. The devastation wrought by the landslide has left the community in shock and mourning, with local leaders expressing the enormity of the tragedy witnessed at the disaster site.