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More than 300 feared dead after massive landslide buries villages as rescuers race to find survivors in Papua New Guinea


HUNDREDS are feared dead after a major landslide buried families alive in their sleep in Papua New Guinea.

Dozens of homes were also flattened as the disaster swept over the village of Kaokalam, some 370 miles northwest of capital Port Moresby.

A major landslide has swept an entire village away in Papua New Guinea


A major landslide has swept an entire village away in Papua New GuineaCredit: Reuters
Dozens of homes were destroyed as families were buried alive in their sleep


Dozens of homes were destroyed as families were buried alive in their sleepCredit: Reuters
Rescue teams and locals are racing to find any survivors


Rescue teams and locals are racing to find any survivorsCredit: AFP
Hundreds of villagers are feared dead following the disaster


Hundreds of villagers are feared dead following the disasterCredit: AFP

Rescuers are now in a race against time to find survivors in the wake of the catastrophe that struck at around 3am local time on Friday.

Horror footage appears to show casualties being pulled from beneath the towering mounds of debris and mud.

More than 100 people are feared dead, according to Australian media, however locals think the actual number is closer to 300.

The officials have not yet released an official estimate.

Community leader Mark Ipuia told Reuters on Saturday: “At this time, we are still searching for bodies who are buried by the massive landslide.”

A rapid response team comprised of medics and military personnel has arrived at the remote landslide site, humanitarian group Care Australia said.

But the rough terrain and damage to important highways make rescue efforts difficult, it noted, with highway access restricted and the area only accessible by helicopter.

“While the area is not densely populated, our concern is that the death toll could be disproportionately high,” Care Australia said in a statement.

One resident from a nearby village, Dominic Lau, said that when he got at the scene of the landslip, “there was no houses [left]”.

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He told Australia’s ABC news channel it was all “just flat with soil”.

“There was nothing, just rocks and soil… there were no people and there were no houses to see,” Lau added.

Kaokalam resident Ninga Role was away when the landslide struck and sadly lost his brother and cousin to the tragedy.

He told Sky News: “It’s very impossible, the area covered by the landslide is large and there are rocks and trees everywhere.

“It’s very difficult to get them out.”

Businesswoman Elizabeth Laruma, from a nearby town in the same province of Enga, said homes were flattened when the mountainside gave way.

She told Australia’s ABC news channel: “It has occurred when people were still asleep in the early hours, and the entire village has gone down.

“From what I can presume, it’s about 100-plus people who are buried beneath the ground.”

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

The Papua New Guinea Red Cross Society previously said that an emergency response team made up of officials from the provincial governor’s office, police, defence forces, and local NGOs had been deployed to the site.

Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister, James Marape, stated on Friday that officials are responding to the calamity, the BBC reports.

He said that the government is coordinating with local officials to provide “relief work, body recovery, and infrastructure reconstruction.”

Papua New Guinea is a developing nation populated mainly by subsistence farmers with 800 languages spoken.

Approximately 85% of its 10million people live in rural areas.

There are few highways outside of major cities, and telecommunications are weak.

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