Rescuers search rubble after over 300 buried in Papua New Guinea landslide

Rescuers search rubble after over 300 buried in Papua New Guinea landslide

Rescue teams have arrived at the site of an enormous landslide in Papua New Guinea‘s remote highlands, helping villagers search for hundreds of people feared dead under towering mounds of rubble and mud, according to Aljazeera.

“At this time, we are still searching for bodies who are buried by the massive landslide,” community leader Mark Ipuia told Reuters news agency on Saturday, adding that “more than 300” villagers may be entombed.

So far, only four bodies have been pulled from the debris, a United Nations official based in the capital, Port Moresby, was quoted as saying.

The disaster hit Kaokalam village in Enga province early on Friday morning when many villagers were at home asleep, according to government officials.

According to Papua New Guinea media, at least 1,182 houses were also buried in the landslide in the area located about 600km (370 miles) northwest of Port Moresby.

“There are a lot of houses under the debris that cannot be reached,” said UN official Serhan Aktoprak, who estimated as many as 3,000 people called the hillside settlement home.

While the area is not densely populated, humanitarian agency CARE said that it is worried that the death toll could be disproportionately high.

The landslide has also blocked highway access, making helicopters the only way to reach the area. The emergency team of medics, including military and police, also faced difficulty in reaching the area due to rugged terrain and damage to major roads.