670 people feared dead in Papua New Guinea landslide

New Delhi: A massive landslide which hit Papua New Guinea on Friday has resulted in hundreds of casualties, reported AP. The International Organisation for Migration said on Sunday that the estimated death toll is at least 670.

Serhan Aktoprak, chief of the UN migration agency’s mission in the South Pacific island nation, informed that the revised death toll was based on calculations by officials of Yambali village and Enga provincial officials.

The initial estimate was around 60 homes having been buried by the landslide, and 100 fatalities. But that figure has now been revised to 150 houses.

“They are estimating that more than 670 people are under the soil,” Aktoprak said.

Only five bodies and the leg of a sixth victim have been recovered till earlier on Sunday.

As unstable earth and tribal warfare, which is common in the country’s Highlands, threatened rescue effort, the Papua New Guinea government is thinking of seeking more international support.

Rescue teams have given up hope of finding survivors under earth and rubble 6 to 8 metres (20 to 26 feet) deep.

“People are coming to terms with this, so there is a serious level of grieving and mourning. Working across the debris is very dangerous as the land is still sliding,” Aktoprak said.

Convoys transporting food, water and other essential supplies to the devastated village located 60 km (35 miles) from provincial capital Wabag have faced risks related to tribal fighting in Tambitanis village, about halfway along the route.

So much so that Papua New Guinea’s armed forces personnel are having to provide security for the vehicles.

Papua New Guinea is a diverse, developing island nation with 800 languages and 10 million people, most of whom are subsistence farmers.

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