24 Jan 2012

Large landslide hits gas area of PNG's Southern Highlands

8:26 pm on 24 January 2012

A massive land slide has occurred in Papua New Guinea's Southern Highlands province in an area where the major Liquefied Natural Gas project is being developed.

Unconfirmed reports say forty bodies have been retrieved from the landslide which happened around 6AM this morning.

The LNG project operator, Esso Highlands, says all of its staff are accounted for in the affected area which is situated between the Hides gas fields and the project's Nogoli base.

An Esso spokeswoman, Rebecca Arnold, says the company has been in communication with government, including the National Disaster and Emergency Relief Office.

She says PNG authorities are responding, although no official death toll has been released.

Mud flows are known to be a major geohazard in the area which is the focus of increased oil and gas extraction activity.