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Hundreds feared dead after Papua New Guinea landslide

People crossing over the landslide area International Organization for Migration via Associated Press/Photo by Benjamin Sipa

Hundreds feared dead after Papua New Guinea landslide

Hundreds of residents of Papua New Guinea are missing and feared dead after a landslide hit the northern village of Kaokalam early Friday morning. The government has sent disaster and public works officials to begin rescue, recovery, and reconstruction efforts, according to PNG Prime Minister James Marape. More information on the death toll and scale of destruction would be released after he received a full briefing, Marape added.

How did the disaster happen? The landslide took place early in the morning when everyone was still asleep, said villager Ninga Role, according to Reuters. All of a sudden, everything was covered by rocks, he said. Villagers think more than 300 people were covered by debris and rocks, Role added. Officials have not confirmed the number of those missing or deceased.

What’s the international response? The loss of life is devastating, and Australia is ready to provide aid and help with recovery efforts, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong wrote on social media. Early images and reports of the disaster are shocking in severity, wrote Shadow Foreign Minister Simon Birmingham. He added that Australia will give whatever assistance it can with full bipartisan support.

Dig deeper: Read my report in The Sift about how over a dozen people died during a PNG police strike earlier this year.

Christina Grube

Christina Grube is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute.

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