Expected death toll spikes in Papua New Guinea landslide | WORLD
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Expected death toll spikes in Papua New Guinea landslide

A satellite photo of the landslide area in the Enga region Associated Press/Photo by Maxar Technologies

Expected death toll spikes in Papua New Guinea landslide

Local media reported on Monday that as many as 2,000 people were buried alive and feared dead by the landslide last week in the country’s Enga province. The United Nations resident coordinator in Papua New Guinea on Monday reported that the death toll was only 670 people but said that number was subject to change.

Are disasters like these common? Papua New Guinea sits along the Ring of Fire, which the U.S. Geological Survey describes as the area with the most seismic and volcanic activity in the world. A current U.S. State Department advisory urges Americans to reconsider travel to Papua New Guinea due to crime, inconsistent healthcare, and natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanic activity, and tsunamis.

What kind of area is this landslide in, specifically? The U.S. State Department describes the Eastern Highlands—including the Enga province—as inaccessible by plane. The site’s remoteness and damage to roads leading into the area hampered rescue efforts, the United Nations said. The U.S. government also says it is largely unable to assist Americans outside the capital of Port Moresby due to limited transportation infrastructure. The Salvation Army earlier this year described the country’s underdeveloped infrastructure as a challenge to its humanitarian operations there.

Dig deeper: Read Christina Grube’s report in The Sift from Friday about the landslide and the immediate death toll estimates.

Josh Schumacher

Josh is a breaking news reporter for WORLD. He’s a graduate of World Journalism Institute and Patrick Henry College.

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