Onlookers react as people clear an area at the site of a landslide in Yambali village, Enga Province, Papua New Guinea Onlookers react as people clear an area at the site of a landslide in Yambali village, Enga Province, Papua New Guinea 

Landslide in Papua New Guinea buries six villages

Over 2000 people are feared dead after a landslide in Papua New Guinea buries six villages.

By Jessica Jeyamaridas

A landslide has swept through six villages in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. The earth gave way in a remote area of Enga province at around three in the morning local time on Friday 24 May, catching the population in their sleep. More than 2000 people are missing and feared dead, many of these are children.

The desperate search for survivors

The disaster caused several villages to be razed to the ground, burying entire families alive in the worst massacre the country has seen in decades. So far, at least 670 people have been confirmed dead, although according to the National Disaster Centre at the UN, the death toll “is likely to be higher”.

Help for the inhabitants of Papua New Guinea

UN Secretary General, António Guterres said he was “deeply saddened” by the news of the hundreds of lives lost. He added that "the United Nations and its partners are supporting the government's efforts” and that the UN is “ready to offer further assistance at this difficult time." US President, Joe Biden described Papua New Guinea as a “close partner and friend”.

Pope Francis’ message of condolence

The Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, sent a telegram conveying the Holy Father’s closeness to the people of Papua New Guinea. "Pope Francis is deeply saddened by the news of the devastation caused by the landslide in the province of Enga, Papua New Guinea, and assures his spiritual closeness to all those affected by this disaster." Pope Francis also assured his prayers "for the dead, for those who mourn their loss and for the rescue of the many people still missing”.

Finally, the Holy Father offered words of encouragement to the civil authorities and emergency personnel as they continue their relief efforts.

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28 May 2024, 12:23