LANDSLIDE
© RNZ Pacific/ Koroi Hawkins
Search and rescue efforts in Papua New Guinea's Highlands are continuing after at least eight people died in a landslide.

The devastating slip burst through at least two remote villages in Enga province on Monday, destroying homes and crops.

Mackenzie Smith reports.


TRANSCRIPT

Two weeks ago, Tsak Valley was celebrating the launch of Papua New Guinea's electrification roll-out, which will deliver power to 70 percent of the country by 2030.

But on Monday, the remote part of Enga province was slammed by a wall of mud that barrelled down the hillsides burying anything in its way.

It's a cruel reminder that despite development in mostly-rural PNG, many communities live in areas prone to frequent disaster.

Michael Kambao, a provincial government lawyer living in the area, says the slip had hammered a local village.

"Well over a hundred buildings and homes, food gardens, crops, trees, banyan trees, vegetables, the vegetation, massive, massive destruction."

Speaking on Wednesday, Mr Kambao said many of his family members from the Poiyo clan had been affected.

According to a release from Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato's office, Kalepata village was completely wiped out by the slip.

The release from Mr Pato, who is the local MP, said families were traumatised after their homes had been buried by 6 to 7 metres of earth, rocks and trees.

"Those who where able to escape fled to safety but others in the process of escaping got themselves tangled and got sandwiched inside debris."

Pictures of the slip show entire hillsides missing, their innards cleaving a muddy stream down Tsak valley.

Fields of crops have been strewn apart by the torrent.


The Enga provincial disaster coordinator, Cleopas Roa, says eight people have died so far in the disaster.

He says four bodies have been recovered but another four are missing, with search efforts ongoing.

"I think it's quite a big landslip, I went in there to assist the affected families, families who their houses were buried and they got no food or shelter."

Mr Roa said a disaster assessment team from the capital Port Moresby is arriving on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Minister's office is coordinating supplies and food for displaced people.

Neighbouring villages, police and military are also assisting with the search for the dead.

This is Mackenzie Smith.