7 Nov 2013

Emergency relief efforts continue in PNG following landslide

6:24 pm on 7 November 2013

Emergency relief efforts are continuing in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea following a landslide, which is believed to have claimed at least nine lives.

The landslide tore through the village of Kenagi in the rugged Highlands region, following torrential rain on Saturday evening.

The police say an enormous flow of mud from a nearby mountain buried at least half a dozen homes in the village.

Work is continuing to reopen the crucial Highlands Highway, which leads to major LNG projects.

Our correspondent in Port Moresby, Todagia Kelola, told Moera Tuilaepa-Taylor that some landowners say the placement of the highway destabilised the main road.

TODAGIA KELOLA: The disgruntled landowners actually have a petition or they wanted the prime minister and the works minister to personally go to the site and they've stopped cargos from crossing that particular area, just saying those ones who are still missing... I think eight people were missing and one was found, while the others are still being searched for by national disaster and emergency officers. Prime Minister Peter O'Neill has already ordered the national disaster and emergency services to transfer 100,000 to the account for emergency relief supplies. And the landslide that happened, it's basically the landowners are complaining that because of the highway, the islands highway that runs through, it has created some instability on the mountain land that caused it.

MOERA TUILAEPA-TAYLOR: Because it is a main highway, isn't it?

TK: Yes, it's next to the main highlands high way that goes up to the LNG projects in the Southern Highlands and the Hela Province.

MTT: And do you know if the road has been cleared at this stage, or are they still in negotiations with the government?

TK: I was told this morning that as a mark of respect to those who are buried there's nobody going across, but a government team is already on the ground and they're trying to clear the area for traffic to flow again.

MTT: So the clean-up has started.

TK: Yes, clean-up has started. I'm told also that the Chief Secretary to Government, Manasupe Zurenuoc, is on the ground with the governor for Eastern Highlands and other political leaders in the province. They are right now talking to the relatives of the victims of the landslide.

At least seven people were killed in 2009 in the Eastern Highlands when a landslide engulfed two buses and three houses. In January last year 60 people died when a massive slip wiped out an entire village in the Southern Highlands.