A village was buried in the landslide and 670 people are feared dead, the UN said

A United Nations official in Papua New Guinea estimated that 670 people died this Sunday, May 26, in a landslide that buried a village in the South Pacific country during the night from Thursday to Friday.

“More than 150 houses were buried and an estimated 670 people dead,” Serhan Aktobrak, a UN migration official based in Papua’s capital, Port Moresby, told Agence France-Presse.

The natural disaster hit Enga province in the center of the country at around 3pm on Thursday to Friday, when residents of a village were buried under mud and rubble while they slept. It can take days or even weeks to reach a firm human count.

“The situation is terrible, the earth continues to collapse, which creates a great danger for everyone present,” Serhan Aktobrak said on Sunday.

The village in question has a population of approximately 4,000 and, due to its location, was a gathering place for many gold prospectors in the region. A million affected people have already fled the region.

According to humanitarian organizations, the disaster destroyed the village’s livestock, food gardens and drinking water sources.

Workers armed with shovels, axes and improvised tools are barefoot, trying to evacuate possible survivors, while others search for piles of corrugated iron used for housing.

However, this Sunday the most efficient machines must be transported to the disaster zone. According to local residents, the landslide must have been triggered by heavy rains in the area in the past weeks.

As the World Bank points out, Papua New Guinea has one of the wettest climates in the world, and the highlands of the archipelago experience frequent violent rainfall in its humid regions.

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In March, at least 23 people have already died in a landslide in a neighboring province.

Original article published on BFMTV.com

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