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More than 100 feared dead in massive landslide in Papua New Guinea

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Melbourne, Australia — More than 100 people are believed to have been killed Friday in a landslide that buried a village in a remote part of Papua New Guinea, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

The landslide reportedly hit Kaokalam village in Enga province, about 370 miles northwest of the South Pacific island nation’s capital of Port Moresby, at roughly 3 a.m. local time, ABC reported.

Residents say current estimates of the death toll are above 100, although authorities haven’t confirmed that figure. Villagers said the number of people killed could be much higher.

Videos on social media show locals pulling bodies out that were buried under rocks and trees.

CORRECTION / PNG-LANDSLIDE
People gather at the site of a massive landslide in Papua New Guinea’s Enga Province on May 24, 2024. 

STR / AFP via Getty Images


The Papua New Guinea government and police didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Elizabeth Laruma, who runs a women’s business association in Porgera, a town in the same province near the Porgera Gold Mine, said village houses were flattened when the side of a mountain gave way.

“It has occurred when people were still asleep in the early hours, and the entire village has gone down,” Laruma told ABC. “From what I can presume, it’s about 100-plus people who are buried beneath the ground.”

The landslide blocked the road between Porgera and the village, she said, raising concerns about the town’s own supply of fuel and goods.

Village resident Ninga Role, who was away when the landslide struck, expects at least four of his relatives have died.

“There are some huge stones and plants, trees. The buildings collapsed,” Role said. “These things are making it hard to find the bodies fast.”

PNG-LANDSLIDE
People gather at the site of a massive landslide in Papua New Guinea’s Enga Province on May 24, 2024.

STR / AFP via Getty Images


Reuters reports that local media said the landslide affected operations at the Porgera gold mine, which is run by Barrick Gold through Barrick Niugini Ltd, a joint venture with China’s Zijin Mining. Barrick Gold didn’t immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment outside normal business hours.

Papua New Guinea is a diverse, developing nation of mostly subsistence farmers with 800 languages. There are few roads outside the larger cites.

With 10 million people, it is also the most populous South Pacific nation after Australia, which is home to some 27 million.

Located just south of the equator, the area gets frequent heavy rains, Agence France-Presse points out, adding that there’s been intense rainfall and flooding this year. At least 23 people were killed by a landslide in a nearby province in March. 

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