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RNZ Pacific

The survivors of a massive landslide in a remote village in Papua New Guinea’s highlands are still waiting for official help, more than 24 hours after the disaster.

Hundreds are feared dead in Yambali village in Enga province after the landslide bulldozed homes and buried families alive early Friday morning.

Mick Michael, who lives 3km from Yambali, was in contact with the affected villagers and said people desperately need help.

“And what I am getting is calls from the local leaders and community landowners that they are still seeking help,” he said.

“The roads to the main highway from here to down to the mine [Porgera] site are still closed, and they are seeking help to get those bodies that are buried. But they haven’t gotten any help yet, they are still waiting for that.”

Residents are relying on outside help and heavy machinery to retrieve the bodies of people who were fast asleep when the landslide covered the community.

The Enga provincial local government has called on local health facilities and non-government organisations to be on standby to assist with recovery and relief efforts at the site of the Maip Mulitaki landslide.

Emergency response team
The Enga Province administration met to assemble an emergency response team to assess the damage in the village.

Looking for survivors under the rubble at Yambali village. Image: NBC screenshot APR

Michael said the Wabag District Development Authority was heading down to support residents and would provide medicine and food supplies on Saturday.

“They are also supporting with a machine as well to dig out the bodies as around 100 houses were buried in the landslide,” he said.

A map showing the location of Yambali village in Enga province
A map showing the location of Yambali village in Enga province in PNG’s highlands. Image: 1News screenshot APR

Four bodies have been recovered so far, while the rest have been buried underneath all the rock and mud.

In a statement last night, Prime Minister James Marape said he was yet to be fully briefed, but that authorities were responding to the disaster.

“We are sending in disaster officials, PNG Defence Force and the Department of Works and Highways to meet provincial and district officials in Enga and also start relief work, recovery of bodies, and reconstruction of infrastructure,” Marape said.

“I will release further information as I am fully briefed on the scale of destruction and loss of lives.”

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

An aerial shot of the massive landslide at Yambali village in PNG's Enga province
An aerial shot of the massive landslide at Yambali village in PNG’s Enga province. Image: NBC screenshot APR

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