At least five members of a family died and three more are missing after a landslide in Papua New Guinea, local media reported on Friday.

Heavy rains triggered a landslide in the Mumeng area in Morobe province's Bulolo town where people were engaged in alluvial mining, daily The National reported.

There were 11 people at the makeshift camp when the landslide hit early Wednesday, the report said.

Three of them were able to save themselves, while the bodies of a couple and three siblings were found on Thursday.

Officials are fearing the worst for the three people still missing.

"The villagers have searched nearby areas but could not locate the bodies. They must have been washed down to Watut River and further on to the main Markham River," said Joe Paru, chief executive of Bulolo.

He said the family was in the area for alluvial mining "for school fees of the children," according to the report.

"It was late so they decided to camp there without realizing that a landslide had already started on the side of the mountain where they camped," the official added.