15 Apr 2008

PNG landslide chokes Highlands access

3:37 pm on 15 April 2008

Hundreds of thousands of people in the Papua New Guinea Highlands have been left stranded without supplies after heavy rains caused a massive landslide on the weekend.

The government has declared a natural disaster zone on the Okuk Highway, at Gera, outside Kundiawa town in Simbu Province.

The landslide was triggered by rain and falling limestone which caused a large volume of soil to crash down and cover 150 metres of highway.

The Post Courier newspaper reports that the landslide has cut electricity as well as supplies of fuel and other essentials.

The Transport Minister Don Polye says it is a major disaster and people urgently need relief supplies.

Mr Polye says business houses, the resources development projects in Kutubu, the Porgera mine and provincial chambers of commerce need to look at alternative ways to operate in the next few weeks.

It is expected to take a month before the road is again in use.