Huge landslide hits village

2012-01-25 08:46

Port Moresby - As many as 60 people are feared dead after a massive landslide wiped out an entire village in a scene of "utter devastation" in Papua New Guinea, reports and aid workers said on Wednesday.

The disaster struck near a huge ExxonMobil liquefied natural gas project in the country's rugged southern highlands on Tuesday as people slept, leaving a trail of destruction.

PNG media said 40 bodies had been recovered and another 20 people were still missing.

The director of PNG's National Disaster Centre, Martin Mosi, said it appeared lives had been lost but he could not verify how many.

"The numbers are fluctuating and they need to be verified, but yes, there could very well be casualties," he told AFP.

Staff from his office were en route via helicopter and he said once they were on the ground, he would have a clearer picture.

'Really huge'

"It was a big landslide and it covered a big area where there used to be small hamlets, so we are expecting a number of deaths," Mosi added.

The Pacific nation's Prime Minister Peter O'Neill was also rushing to the scene, near Tari.

"He has just left and will have a look at the landslide area and see what assistance is needed," an official in his office said on Wednesday morning.

Nanduka Yandi, an aid worker for US-based NGO Population Services International, was at the scene of the landslide soon after it happened on Tuesday and said many people were killed, with few escaping the carnage.

"It was really huge. It covered 42 houses and only three or four people managed to escape. Everyone else died," he told AFP by telephone.

"It is quite remote and yesterday there was hardly anyone here to dig out the bodies or help people. People lost their entire families. They are in shock."

He described the scene as "utter devastation".

"Tonnes of mud and huge stones came down. It destroyed the whole area."

He recounted how one guest house owner was not in his home at the time and returned to find his wife, children and mother and father all missing.

Yandi said it had been raining in the area at the time, although some locals quoted by the media claimed the landslide was caused by blasting at a nearby quarry.

An aerial shot of the disaster showed mud and other debris extending for at least one kilometre (half a mile) across a forested area.

A spokeswoman for ExxonMobil said all its personnel were accounted for and it was in close contact with the Natural Disaster Centre.

"We have closed down work in the surrounding area," she said.

ExxonMobil's Aus$16 billion ($16.8 billion) LNG project is due to begin production in 2014 and will see PNG's natural gas sold across Asia for the next 30 years.

Local MP Francis Potape told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation he feared there could be further landslides as the area was still very unstable.

"We could still see rocks still coming down in front of our eyes and we could also see water trapped in the mountainside rushing out," he said.

ABC said the main road in the area had been cut in half, hindering rescue workers' attempts to reach the scene.

- SAPA

NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

Zuma: Pray for peaceful polls

President Jacob Zuma has asked members of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God to pray for peaceful elections on 7 May.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Friday Grabouw - 11:32 AM
    Road name: N2 Eastbound
    DELAYS between Sir Lowrys Pass and Grabouw
  • Friday Cape Town - 10:14 AM
    Road name: M3 Inbound
    EVENT - left lane closed between Rhodes Avenue and UCT
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Curve 9380

The first BlackBerry Curve smartphone with a touch screen Stay connected...

From R1799.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Self-indulgence may be strong today. You may want to enjoy yourself to the fullest and share it with those that make you feel...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.