Devastating Landslide in Papua New Guinea Buries 2,000 People: Unprecedented Disaster Unfolds

Enga Province, Papua New Guinea – Last week, a catastrophic landslide hit a remote village in the mountainous Enga region of northern Papua New Guinea, burying an estimated 2,000 people alive, according to the country’s National Disaster Centre. The scale of the disaster far surpasses earlier estimates and has left rescuers racing against time to find any survivors amidst the devastation.

Initially thought to have claimed the lives of up to 100 individuals, the death toll has now risen dramatically to 670, with fears that the previous numbers may have significantly underestimated the true extent of the tragedy. As communication lines remain disrupted and access to the affected area poses immense challenges due to Papua New Guinea’s rugged terrain, relief efforts are further hampered.

The United Nations has described the situation as extremely dire, with Lusete Laso Mana, Acting Director of the National Disaster Centre, highlighting the widespread destruction caused by the landslide. Not only have numerous lives been lost, but infrastructures, food gardens, and the country’s economic stability have also been severely impacted.

The landslide, which struck the village of Kaokalam in a remote area northwest of the capital Port Moresby, has triggered ongoing dangers as the landslip continues to shift slowly. The main highway to the region has been entirely blocked, further complicating rescue operations and posing risks to both responders and potential survivors.

Local villagers in Yambali have also borne the brunt of the disaster, with over 150 houses buried under debris and the area remaining at high risk due to continued rock falls and heightened soil pressure. The lack of roads and difficult terrain in Papua New Guinea have further compounded the challenges faced by rescue teams in accessing and navigating the affected areas.

Experts have emphasized the complexity of rescue operations following landslides, citing the difficulty in locating survivors amidst collapsed structures and unstable geomaterials. With the cause of the landslide still unknown, geologists point to the region’s heavy rainfall and seismic activity as contributing factors, underscoring the precarious nature of steep slopes and high mountains prone to instability.

As the nation grapples with the aftermath of this devastating natural disaster, the need for immediate and concerted efforts from all stakeholders is crucial to address the extensive damages and provide support to affected communities. The resilience of the people of Papua New Guinea will be tested as they work to rebuild and recover from the immense loss and destruction wrought by this tragic event.