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Best of the Web: More than 670 people killed by massive landslide in Papua New Guinea (UPDATE)

Locals were trying to sift through the rubble with what equipment was still to hand on Friday
© Ninga Role/AAP/IMAGOLocals were trying to sift through the rubble with what equipment was still to hand on Friday
More than 100 people are believed to have been killed Friday in a landslide that buried a village in a remote, mountainous part of Papua New Guinea, and an emergency response is underway, the South Pacific island nation's leader and news media said.

The landslide reportedly hit Kaokalam village in Enga province, about 600 kilometers (370 miles) northwest of the capital, Port Moresby, at roughly 3 a.m., Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

Residents said estimates of the death toll were above 100, although authorities have not confirmed that figure. Villagers said the number of people killed could be much higher.

Prime Minister James Marape said authorities were responding and he would release information about the destruction and loss of life when it was available.

Comment: Update May 26

Al Jazeera reports:
The International Organization for Migration has increased its estimate of the death toll from a massive landslide in Papua New Guinea (PNG) to more than 670.

Serhan Aktoprak, the chief of the United Nations agency's mission in the South Pacific island nation, said on Sunday the revised death toll was based on calculations by Yambali village and Enga provincial officials that more than 150 homes had been buried by Friday's landslide.

The previous estimate had been 60 homes.

"They are estimating that more than 670 people [are] under the soil at the moment," Aktoprak said.

"The situation is terrible with the land still sliding. The water is running and this is creating a massive risk for eveyrone involved," added Aktoprak, who is based in capital, Port Moresby.

Local officials had initially put the death toll on Friday at 100 or more. Only five bodies and a leg of a sixth victim had been recovered by Sunday, while seven people, including a child, had received medical treatment.

Authorities are trying to establish evacuation centres on safer ground on either side of the massive swath of debris.

Meanwhile, emergency responders were moving survivors of the massive landslide to safer ground as tonnes of unstable earth and tribal warfare, which is rife in the country's highlands, threatened the rescue effort.

Damage to infrastructure also made it more difficult for rescue and relief efforts to reach the area, according to Justine McMahon, a CARE Australia humanitarian group representative in PNG.

"The ground is quite unstable, making it difficult for rescuers to get in. The main road has also been cut off by about 200 metres [656 feet], hampering relief," she told Al Jazeera.

Car-sized boulders

Heavy earth-moving equipment are yet to arrive at the mountainous location 600km (370 miles) northwest of Port Moresby.

At some points, the landslide - a mix of car-sized boulders, uprooted trees and churned-up earth - was thought to be 8 metres (26 feet) deep.

Aid agencies said the catastrophe had effectively wiped out the village's livestock, food gardens and sources of clean water.


Hundreds of brown pelicans are starving to death in California - despite plenty to eat

Hundreds of starving birds are showing up on California beaches
Hundreds of starving birds are showing up on California beaches
For the second time in two years, large numbers of brown pelicans are showing up sick and injured along California's coastline, and scientists are racing to find out why.

As of this week, hundreds of these birds have died. Current evidence points to starvation as the cause, despite there being plenty of food (typically surface dwelling fish like herring or anchovies) for them to eat. Though the species are also found on the east coast of the U.S., the Atlantic birds aren't suffering a similar trend.

"We don't know why, but [the west coast pelicans] are not finding the food that they need," says Jeni Smith, the zoological curator of animal rescue programs at SeaWorld San Diego. "And if that's the case, then they are looking for it elsewhere, and that might explain why they are inland or in unusual locations."

Cloud Precipitation

Floods in Armenia's north kill 2

The mayor of Alaverdi town has confirmed that one person has been killed in their community by the May 26 floods in Armenia's northern regions that brings the number of casualties to two as search and rescue efforts continue.

Davit Ghumashyan told that the casualty, who is a resident of Deghdsavan village, can be seen in the car that is the water.

"He is in the car at the moment, it appears that we have one casualty. He is a man. He is a resident of Deghdsavan," he said.

He mentioned that the evacuation works are almost finished in Alaverdi. "There are a few people left who have not been evacuated yet, but there is no problem, we will evacuate them too," he added.

Blue Planet

Alaska's pristine waterways are mysteriously turning orange, coincides with increased snowfall

Kutuk River
© Ken Hill/National Park ServiceKutuk River, Gates of the Arctic National Park, Alaska.
Some of Alaska's clear, icy blue waterways are turning a startling rust orange - so intense it's visible from Earth's orbit.

"The stained rivers are so big we can see them from space," says University of California (UC) Davis environmental toxicologist Brett Poulin. "These have to be stained a lot to pick them up from space."

After first noticing the problem in 2018 from river banks and fly-overs, National Park Service ecologist Jon O'Donnell, Poulin and their colleagues used satellite imagery and public reports to identify over 75 remote streams recently tainted this unusual orange color, across almost 1,000 kilometers (1,610 miles) of Alaska's Brooks Range.

Comment: Volcanic activity in and around Alaska may be increasing, and, in turn, it's possible that so is geothermal activity - as also seems to be the case elsewhere on the planet:

Cloud Lightning

Lightning strike kills 2 women in Lagos, Nigeria

Two women were tragically killed after being struck by lightning in a sorrowful incident during Friday's rainfall in FESTAC, Lagos State.

Naija News reports that the state police spokesperson, SP Benjamin Hundeyin, confirmed the deaths, noting that the lightning strike was instantaneous and fatal, also sparking a fire.

The victims, who were residing in a makeshift shelter constructed under high-voltage power lines, were identified only as residents of the area.

"Lightning struck, electrocuting them instantly and causing a fire outbreak," Hundeyin explained.

The police have reiterated warnings against the dangers of living or seeking shelter under high-tension cables, especially during adverse weather conditions.


6.3 magnitude earthquake strikes Vanuatu

A 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck Vanuatu on Saturday (May 25), according to the United States Geological Survey.

The natural disaster was centered in Port-Vila at a depth of 32.1 kilometers (about 52 miles). The USGS said there were 11 reports of residents having felt the earthquake at the time of publication on Saturday.

The Vanuatu earthquake was reported hours after a 5.1-magnitude earthquake struck Papua New Guinea on Friday (May 24), according to the United States Geological Survey. The natural disaster was centered at a depth of 32.1 kilometers (about 20 miles).

The Papua New Guinea earthquake was reported hours after a 5.6-magnitude earthquake struck the Southwest Indian Ridge on Thursday (May 23), according to the United States Geological Survey. The natural disaster was centered at a depth of 10 kilometers (about 6.21 miles).

Cloud Precipitation

Hail and flooding in different parts of Türkiye

Heavy downpours with large hail throughout Turkey.

Floods occurred in cities such as Balıkesir, Bursa, Adana, Istanbul, Edirne and Çorum.


Suoh volcano eruption in Indonesia update - New eruption, 3 powerful explosions occur

Phreatic eruption from Suoh volcano
© PVMBGPhreatic eruption from Suoh volcano on 24 May
Without warning, a series of 3 powerful explosions occurred this morning, sending tens of thousands of rock and mud into the air. This occurred at one of Sumatra's most dangerous volcanoes known as Suoh. What occurred was a cluster of phreatic eruptions, which this video will explain how they formed and the general geologic setting in Indonesia.

Note: The thumbnail of today's video shows the 2018 eruption of Kilauea in Hawaii and not the 2024 eruption of Suoh in Indonesia. The reason for this is I was unable to find a high enough resolution image to use for a thumbnail for Suoh, and decided to find an image which might somewhat closely match the appearance of its second explosion.


3-year-old child mauled to death by stray dogs in Maharashtra, India

Stray dogs attacked a minor in Nagpur on Tuesday resulting in his death
© PTIStray dogs attacked a minor in Nagpur on Tuesday resulting in his death.
A three-year-old child was mauled to death by stray dogs in Maharatra's Nagpur on Tuesday, May 21.

The incident took place in the city's Mauda area when the child stepped out of the home when his mother was busy with household work.

As he stepped out, a pack of stray dogs attacked him, in which he sustained grievous injuries, his father said while speaking to the media.

According to eyewitnesses, the dogs attacked the child's neck and pinned him, biting his legs and hands.

Shahane was then released from the dogs' clutches by the neighbours and rushed to a nearby hospital where he succumbed to his injuries during treatment.

Earlier, in a similar incident, another five-year-old child was mauled to death by stray dogs in a rural area of Nagpur in 2022.

Five-year-old had gone for a morning walk with his elder sister when he was attacked by stray dogs.


2 killed, buildings damaged after tornado hits Toluca, Mexico

At least two people died after a tornado appeared in Toluca, State of Mexico, and left chaos, knocking down trees, poles, roof sheets and a fence.
At least two people died after a tornado appeared in Toluca, State of Mexico, and left chaos, knocking down trees, poles, roof sheets and a fence.
Local media report that the damage caused by the storm took place in the northern area of ​​the Mexican capital.

Through social networks they spread images about how the tornado appeared.

Specialist determined that it was a "non-supercell tornado."

The two victims were a couple who were trying to take shelter from the rain next to a fence, but it ended up fatally collapsing on them.