Papua New Guinea: Rescue of victims after landslide extremely difficult

Papua New Guinea
Rescue of victims after landslide extremely difficult

In the accident in the remote province of Enga, a mountainside suddenly slipped and collapsed into the valley. Photo

© Juho Valta/UNDP Papua New Guinea/AP/dpa

After the deadly rockslide in Papua New Guinea, it is completely unclear how long the rescue work might take. According to experts, landslides have a completely different dynamic than earthquakes.

The rescue operations after the massive landslide in According to experts, the rescue of the victims in Papua New Guinea, where there may be 2,000 dead, is a monumental task. “Rescuing the victims is a sensitive and difficult process,” Chris Jensen, director of the aid organization World Vision in the Pacific island state, told dpa. “The timetable for the rescue is uncertain and depends on various factors, including the stability of the area and weather conditions.”

In the accident in the remote province of Enga on Friday night, a mountainside suddenly slid and collapsed into the valley. It swept away an entire village – and many people to their deaths. So far, only a very few victims have been recovered.

Position of the buried people is unclear

Pierre Rognon, a landslide expert at the University of Sydney, told Australian broadcaster ABC that finding people buried after landslides is much more difficult than after earthquakes. “A landslide sweeps everything and everyone away – but we don’t know exactly where,” he explained. “So before we even start thinking about how to get equipment there and how safe it is, we don’t even know where to get it.” The helpers can only make vague guesses about where people buried might be.

According to emergency services, the earth is still moving in the highland region. Thousands of survivors have to be evacuated for fear of new rock avalanches. “Evacuations are underway, with the safety of children and other vulnerable groups being a top priority,” Jensen stressed.

It is uncertain whether there are any survivors at all. “But as humanitarian workers, we are not giving up hope,” said Jensen. Rescuers must proceed with extreme caution so as not to put themselves or potential survivors in further danger. It is a monumental and deeply heartbreaking tragedy. “The emotional and physical burden on the survivors is immense.”


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