Governor of PNG's Eastern Highlands visits site of landslide
The Governor of Papua New Guinea's Eastern Highlands province has accepted a petition to the Government over landslide.
The Governor of Papua New Guinea's Eastern Highlands province has accepted a petition to the Government from a village stricken by a landslide that killed at least nine people.
A landslide tore through the village of Kenagi in the rugged Highlands region, following torrential rain on Saturday evening.
Julie Soso and other public officials have just returned from a visit to the village by helicopter, bringing tents, blankets, food and other emergency relief.
She says work to recover the dead is continuing, with eight bodies still buried.
Ms Soso told Amelia Langford about her visit to the area and villagers' demands.
JULIE SOSO: We've got our grievances, we've got our petition. We gave what we wanted to give - the food relief and the tents and the other materials, blankets and other things. And we've got their petition. The petition demanded six million kina. They're blaming the government, thinking the heavy vehicles that are travelling on that highway had contributed by making the soil there not too strong.
AMELIA LANGFORD: Tell me, do some villagers believe that where the government built the highlands highway may have destabilised the area and led to the landslide?
JS: Yeah, that's what they're blaming. They think it's due to the highway that is built there, especially the vehicles that are travelling on that road carrying heavy weights and this is contributing to the deteriorated state of the national highway itself, starting all the way from Lae up the Highlands Highway. So it's continuously affecting our road and the people there who had been infected by the landslip, they blamed the government for the road that was built through their area. They accept it, but they think that the contributing factor is we're not monitoring the vehicles on how many tonne-loads of cargo that each car should take through the road.
AL: What's it like at the village? It must be a very sad time for the villagers.
JS: It's in the mountains so the villages are scattered along the highway. It only affected five families who were under that mountain that slipped, so it's only five families, but they also think that's a lesson taught not to come close or be careful of the climate change and watch where they build their houses. Some of the people within the village they think it was their fault. Leaving the main village and coming closer to the road was also their fault, so others within the village are blaming themselves, too.
Julie Soso says most of the Highlands Highway has now reopened.
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