Many feared dead as rescuers scramble to reach remote region of Papua New Guinea hit by landslide


NEW GUINEA – Rescue workers are reportedly scrambling to reach a remote village in northern Papua New Guinea after it was hit by a major landslide, the Prime Minister, James Marape said Friday [today].

The minister said an unspecified number of people had reportedly been killed.

The disaster hit the village of Kaokalam in Enga province, about 600 kilometers (372 miles) northwest of the capital Port Moresby, Australian public broadcaster ABC said.

A report by CNN indicated authorities had yet to announce a death toll and the full extent of the damage was still being assessed, with bodies being recovered.

Marape said in a statement that authorities were working to address the disaster.

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“We are sending in disaster officials, PNG Defence Force, and the Department of Works and Highways to meet provincial and district officials in Enga and also start relief work, recovery of bodies, and reconstruction of infrastructure.

“I extend my heartfelt condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in the landslide disaster,” Marape said in a statement.

In comments carried by ABC, officials said houses were flattened when the side of a nearby mountain gave way.

CNN has reached out to local authorities, including Ipatas, as well as the national police and the country’s disaster management agency.

The remoteness of the affected village was hindering rescue efforts.

“Access is limited due to the landslide over the main highway leading into the community.

“The community themselves are responding, trying to bring out and uncover those that have been buried under the landslide,” Janet Philemon, caretaker and national treasurer of the PNG Red Cross Society, told CNN.

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