At Least 100 Feared Dead After Massive Landslide Hits Papua New Guinea; PM James Marape Extends Condolences

Australian media, ABC news, reported that the landslide hit Kaokalam village in Enga Province at around 3 am.

The landslide hit Kaokalam village in Enga Province. Photo: X

At least 100 people are feared dead as a massive landslide struck Papua New Guinea on Friday, burying a village in the remote and mountainous part of the country.

The Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC) news reported that the landslide hit Kaokalam village in Enga Province, about 600 km (370 miles) northwest of the capital -- Port Moresby -- at around 3 am.

Though residents of the village estimated a death toll of over 100, officials have not yet confirmed this figure.

"It has occurred when people were still asleep in the early hours and the entire village has gone down," Elizabeth Laruma, President of the Porgera Women in Business Association, was quoted as saying by ABC news.

"From what I can presume, it's about 100-plus people who are buried beneath the ground," she added.

Prime Minister James Marape said authorities were attending to the situation, adding that he would release information about the damage and loss of life when available.

“I am yet to be fully briefed on the situation. However, I extend my heartfelt condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in the landslide disaster in the early hours of this morning,” Marape said in a statement.

“We are sending in disaster officials, PNG Defense Force, and the Department of Works and Highways... to start relief work, recovery of bodies, and reconstruction of infrastructure,” he added.

Several videos circulating on social media showed residents trying to pull out bodies from beneath the rubble.

Another resident of the village, who is studying at a university in Madang, said that the collapse of huge trees and buildings are "making it hard to find the bodies fast".

Reportedly the landslide has blocked a road which gave access to Porgera town, where a large gold mine is located.

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 also the most populous South Pacific nation after Australia, which is home to 27 million.

(With agency inputs)