6 Dec 2008

Australian rescue team to search for PNG landslide victims

10:21 pm on 6 December 2008

An Australian rescue team h is on its way to Papua New Guinea to search for survivors of a landslide at a goldmine run by the Barrick mining company.

The team hopes sniffer dogs and listening equipment can find survivors more than two days after a landslide triggered by extreme rainfall killed 10 Papua New Guineans in the country's interior.

It is understood some locals are still missing in a mudslide in the isolated mountainous region where the Barrick mining company is looking for gold.

The Australian task force is expected to arrive by helicopter early on Sunday morning at Kora, near Barrick's Kainantu mine in PNG's Eastern Highlands Province.

Stephen Smith, from Queensland Emergency Service, said he remained optimistic.

"There is always a chance that has been proven in the past that people have been able to survive those periods of time (more than 48 hours)."

The president of Barrick's Australia Pacific business unit, Joc O'Rourke, said in a statement most of the debris had been cleared from the impact area.

Barrick is the world's largest gold mining company and has operations in five continents.