Landslide may claim up to 2,000 lives

Henry

It is unlikely that survivors will be found after a landslide in Papua New Guinea that authorities say has buried up to 2,000 people alive.

The giant landslide hit a remote community in the early hours of the morning on Friday.

“This is not a rescue operation, this is a recovery operation,” Niels Kraaier of Unicef ​​in Papua New Guinea told AFP. “It is very unlikely that they would have survived.”

Rescue and relief efforts were severely hampered by the remote location, heavy rainfall and impassable roads. The army struggled to access the site with heavy earth-moving equipment.

Attempts are now being made to coordinate the evacuation of the area and removal of nearly 7,900 people. Aid officials said many residents are refusing to leave risk areas because they hope to still find loved ones alive.

Overwhelmed by the scale of the disaster, the authorities held an online emergency meeting with United Nations agencies and international allies in the hope of starting relief efforts.

Australia has announced millions of dollars worth of aid, including relief supplies such as shelters, hygiene kits and support for women and children.

China’s president, Xi Jinping, and his US counterpart, Joe Biden, have both also offered help.