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UN estimates more than 670 killed in Papua New Guinea landslideExBulletin

UN estimates more than 670 killed in Papua New Guinea landslideExBulletin


In this photo provided by the International Organization for Migration, an injured person is carried on a stretcher to seek medical help after a landslide in the village of Yambali, Papua New Guinea, Friday, May 24, 2024. More than 100 people are believed to have are killed in the landslide that buried a village and an emergency response is underway, officials said.

In this photo provided by the International Organization for Migration, an injured person is carried on a stretcher to seek medical help after a landslide in the village of Yambali, Papua New Guinea, Friday, May 24, 2024. More than 100 people are believed were killed in the landslide that buried a village and an emergency response is underway, officials said.

Benjamin Sipa/AP/International Organization for Migration

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Benjamin Sipa/AP/International Organization for Migration

MELBOURNE, Australia The International Organization for Migration on Sunday raised the death toll from a massive landslide in Papua New Guinea to more than 670.

Serhan Aktoprak, the head of the UN migration agency's mission in the South Pacific island nation, said the revised death toll was based on calculations by Yambali village and Enga provincial officials that more than 150 houses had been buried by the landslide. on friday. The previous estimate had been 60 houses.

They are estimating that more than 670 people (are) underground right now, Aktoprak told The Associated Press.

Local officials had initially put the death toll on Friday at 100 or more. Only five bodies and a leg of the sixth victim were found on Sunday.

Emergency responders in Papua New Guinea were moving survivors to safer ground on Sunday as tons of unstable soil and tribal warfare, which is widespread in the country's highlands, threatened rescue efforts.

The government of the South Pacific islands is meanwhile considering whether to formally seek more international support.

Crews have given up hope of finding survivors under the ground and rubble 6 to 8 meters (20 to 26 feet) deep, Aktoprak said.

People are coming to terms with it, so there is a serious level of grief and mourning, he said.

Government authorities were setting up evacuation centers on safer ground on either side of the massive belt of debris that covers an area the size of three to four football fields and has cut the main highway through the province.

Working along the debris is very dangerous and the ground is still sliding, Aktoprak said.

In addition to the blocked highway, convoys carrying food, water and other essential supplies since Saturday to the devastated village 60 kilometers (35 miles) from the provincial capital, Wabag, have faced risks related to tribal fighting in the village of Tambitanis , about halfway along the road. on the way. Papua New Guinean soldiers were providing security for the convoys.

Eight locals were killed in a clash between two rival clans on Saturday in a long-running dispute unrelated to the landslide. About 30 homes and five retail businesses were burned in the fighting, local officials said.

Aktoprak said he did not expect tribal fighters to target the convoys, but noted that opportunistic criminals could take advantage of the chaos to do so.

This can basically end up in car theft or robbery, Aktoprak said. There is concern not only for the safety and security of personnel, but also for goods because they can use this chaos as a means to steal.

The long-running tribal war has cast doubt on the official estimate that almost 4,000 people were living in the village when a side of Mount Mungalo collapsed.

Justine McMahon, director of humanitarian agency CARE International, said moving survivors to more stable ground was an immediate priority along with providing them with food, water and shelter. The military led those efforts.

The number of injured and missing was still being assessed on Sunday. Seven people, including a child, had received medical treatment as of Saturday, but officials did not have details on their condition.

The medical facilities were buried along with homes, several small businesses, a guest house, school and gas station, officials said.

McMahon said there were other health facilities in the region, the provincial government was sending health workers and the World Health Organization was mobilizing staff.

There will be some support, but it's such a widespread area that I think it's going to be quite a challenging situation, McMahon said. The scale of this disaster is quite large.

While Papua New Guinea is in the tropics, the village is 2,000 meters (6,600 feet) above sea level, where temperatures are significantly cooler.

Papua New Guinea Defense Minister Billy Joseph and the director of the government's National Disaster Center Laso Mana were flying from Port Moresby by helicopter to Wabag on Sunday to gain a first-hand perspective of what is needed.

Aktoprak expected the government to decide by Tuesday whether to formally request more international aid.

The United States and Australia, a close neighbor and Papua New Guinea the most generous provider of foreign aid, are among the governments that have publicly stated their willingness to do more to help responders.

Papua New Guinea is a diverse, developing nation with 800 languages ​​and 10 million people who are mostly subsistence farmers.




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