Monday, June 17, 2024

Rescuers in Papua New Guinea rush to save villagers trapped in disaster

Emergency Convoy Delivers Aid to Survivors of Papua New Guinea Landslide

Emergency convoy delivers aid to survivors of devastating landslide in Papua New Guinea

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — An emergency convoy was delivering food, water, and other provisions on Saturday to stunned survivors of a landslide that devastated a remote village in the mountains of Papua New Guinea, officials said. The landslide, which occurred in Enga province, buried scores of people and was feared to have resulted in significant casualties.

An assessment team reported that approximately 100 people were dead and 60 houses were buried by the mountainside that collapsed a few hours before dawn on Friday. Serhan Aktoprak, the chief of the International Organization for Migration’s mission in Papua New Guinea, acknowledged that the actual death toll could be even higher given the number of houses destroyed.

Rescue efforts were underway, with only three bodies recovered by early Saturday from the debris in Yambali, a village of nearly 4,000 people located 600 kilometers northwest of the capital, Port Moresby. Medical treatment had been provided to seven survivors, including a child, but fears remained that the number of casualties would increase significantly.

Prime Minister James Marape vowed to release more information about the scale of the destruction and loss of life as it became available. All food gardens in the village were destroyed, and the main highway in the province was blocked by the landslide, cutting off access to essential supplies.

A convoy carrying food, water, and other essentials set out from the provincial capital of Wabag to reach the devastated village. Villagers, including local Andrew Ruing, expressed desperate need for assistance as they grappled with the unprecedented situation.

The relief effort faced challenges due to the closure of the main highway and the loss of power in the region caused by the landslide. The unstable soil also posed risks to both the relief operation and communities downstream.

Papua New Guinea is a diverse, developing nation with limited infrastructure outside major cities, making rescue and recovery efforts more challenging. The international community, including the United States and Australia, offered support and assistance to the affected region.

U.S. President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese expressed solidarity with Papua New Guinea and pledged to aid in the response to the disaster. Australia, as Papua New Guinea’s close neighbor and top foreign aid provider, vowed to stand by its Pacific partner in this time of need.

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